Sir Trevor Holdsworth

COMBINING a career as a pianist and a businessman, Sir Trevor Holdsworth, who has died aged 83, was the son of a Bradford bookie who gave concert performances and, as chairman of GKN, oversaw the company's transformation from a muddled amalgamation of disparate engineering businesses into a multi-national giant

He was Chancellor of Bradford University from 1992 to 1997, and in that year he was made a Commander of the Victoria Order – a gift of the Queen – upon his retirement as chairman of the International Trustee Board of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, he was a Freeman of the City of London, President of the CBI (1988-90), chairman of National Power (1990-95), and chairman of Allied Colloids of Bradford and of Beaufort plc of Leeds (1991-99).

Mozart, Schumann and Grieg were the composers whose music he specialised in as a pianist. He played with the Royal Philharmonic in the Royal Festival Hall, the European Community Chamber Orchestra, and in Bradford Cathedral with the pianist Philip Dyson and on another occasion with the violinist Tasmin Little. Sir Trevor gave a concert at least once a year up until his mid-70s.

He was the younger of two brothers, their father Albert a worker in the Bradford wool textile industry until the First World War when he served in North Africa and Arabia under TE Lawrence. While the heroic Lawrence was off on his lone adventures, his unit had little to do but play Crown and Anchor, a gambling game, and as a result of what he learnt, when Albert returned to Bradford after the war, he went into partnership with a bookie, taking off-course bets at a time when off-course betting was illegal.

Trevor, already playing the piano, got a place at Hanson Grammar School, but had a three-year interlude away from it when he and his brother were evacuated to Keighley.

Back at the Grammar School, he was encouraged by the head to go to university, but his parents, thinking it could only lead to a career in teaching, said no. He instead became articled to a firm of chartered accountants.

His career was now interrupted by National Service when he was posted to Germany and was seconded to the British Forces Network in Hamburg as the station's Staff Pianist with Norrie Paramour.

He there began a collaboration with lyricist and fellow Bradfordian David Whitaker (co-creator of Dr Who) which lasted into the 60s. Among those they wrote for were Teddy Johnson and Pearl Carr, and Billy Cotton.

Trevor passed his

accountancy exams in 1949

and was sent to run the firm's small office in Luton – small

but with a major client.

Laporte Chemicals gave the young accountant his first experience of big business, and after 18 months, he got a job with the Bowater Paper Corporation as assistant accountant.

As a foretaste of what was to come, he was made chief accountant and then financial controller of four UK paper mills.

In 1952 he had married the actress Patricia Ridler – her father had managed Bradford's prestigious New Victoria Cinema (to become the Gourmont and then the Odeon), and the family settled in Whitstable, Kent.

In 1962, Sir Trevor was recruited by Peter Brooke

(now Lord Brooke) on behalf

of GKN which he joined as deputy chief accountant in 1963, his family of three

boys now moving to Birmingham.

He was made chairman of the company's screws and fasteners division in 1968, and by the time he was appointed financial controller and a director on the main board in 1970, that division had developed the now ubiquitous Posidrive screw head.

He was 43, and the youngest-ever board member.

A tireless worker – out of the house by 7.30am and rarely finished before 11pm – Sir Trevor Holdsworth was a man with the happy knack of making everyone he met feel uniquely important.

Patricia died in 1993. He married again in 1995 and is survived by his wife Jenny, and his sons Tony, Peter and Nicholas, and two grandsons and three granddaughters.