Sir Hugh Neill, former Master Cutler

Sir Hugh Neill, with his wife, Anne
Sir Hugh Neill, with his wife, Anne
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Sir Hugh Neill, who has died at 96, was Lord-Lieutenant of South Yorkshire between 1985 and 1996, High Sheriff of Hallamshire from 1972, Master Cutler of Hallamshire from 1958 and president of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce from 1984.

Born in Sheffield on March 29, 1921, he left school at 18 to join the family firm, James Neill & Co, to gain some practical experience before going up to Cambridge, on the eve of World War Two.

Having already joined the Territorial Army, he was promptly called up, and spent the next seven years as an officer in the Corps of Royal Engineers, reaching the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

His military service took him to Norway in 1940, India and Burma, with the Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners from 1942 to 1945, and finally to Germany. He was mentioned in despatches for his service in Burma.

Rejoining the family firm on his release from the Army, he spent the whole of his working life in the steel and tool industry. In 1963 he succeeded his father as chairman of James Neill, which became one of the world’s most significant largest tool manufacturers. On his retirement in 1989, he was appointed honorary president of the company.

His elevation to the post of Master Cutler carried on a family tradition, since both of his grandfathers had been previous incumbents: James Neill in 1923 and Robert Colver in 1890.

In the wider business field, he served on the council of the Federation of British Industries and its successor, the Confederation of British Industry, from 1956 to 1983.

In the export field, he was a member of the government’s Export Council for Europe, the British Overseas Trade Board and the British Overseas Trade Advisory Council.

He was also active in community and voluntary activities in South Yorkshire, including taking on the chairmanship of the Sheffield Council for Voluntary Service, from 1953 to 1987, and the presidency of the South Yorkshire and Hallamshire Boys Clubs. For more than 50 years he managed five family charitable grant-making trusts.

Closely associated with the NHS for more than 25 years, he was for two decades a governor of the United Sheffield Hospitals, and in 1974 became a member of the Trent Regional Health Authority.

He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Sheffield City Polytechnic, now Sheffield Hallam University, in 1978, and an Honorary Doctorate of Law by the University of Sheffield, in 1982.

He was knighted in 1958 in recognition of his public services in the West Riding.

A past captain and president of Lindrick Golf Club, between Sheffield and Worksop, he served on committees of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, the sport’s ruling body, and was its captain in 1981. He lived on the edge of Lindrick for six decades.

In the equestrian world, he was a member of the Council of the British Horse Society, and received the society’s Award of Merit in 1988.

Sir Hugh had two daughters by his first wife, Jane Shuttleworth, whom he married in Bombay in 1943 and who died in 1980. He had a son by his second wife, Anne O’Leary, whom he married in 1982, and two grand-daughters, a grandson and three great-grandchildren.