Well-known Buchan businessman, Charles Ritchie, founder of Peterhead-based oil and gas engineering firm Score Group plc, has died following a short illness.
Mr Ritchie (69), launched the company in 1982 and had seen it grow into a multi-national group, with particular focus on the training of young engineers. Staff were told of his death via email on Wednesday morning.
Born and raised in the fishing village of St Combs, Mr Ritchie recently officiated at the 'soft' opening of the Crimond Medical and Community Hub - a project close to his heart.
In unveiling a plaque at the facility, regional MSP Peter Chapman said at the time the hub had been "conceived by Charlie, born out of his imagination and grown into fruition as a result of his drive, hard work and commitment."
Commenting on his passing, he said: "Charles was a giant of a man in every sense with his roots very firmly planted in the north-east of Scotland.
"He was a visionary and through sheer hard work built up a fantastic business that now operates on a global scale, but he would never have considered moving the HQ away from the local area.
"I must pay tribute to his enormous support for young people through an apprenticeship system that was the envy of companies not only across Scotland, but the whole of the UK. That nurturing of young talent and commitment to employment in the north-east will be a lasting legacy.
"I considered him a true friend. My thoughts are very much with his family today."
In a statement on the Peterhead Football Club website, club chairman Rodger Morrison said: "All at Peterhead Footballl Club are shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of a great friend and patron to the club, the one and only Charles Ritchie, founder of Score Group.
"We pass on our sincere condolences to his wife Beryl and family.
"A huge loss to the North East of Scotland and the international business community."
Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson also paid tribute to Mr Ritchie stating: “I know that Charlie Ritchie very energetically built up Score Group into an internationally successful company which in particular employed many apprentices.
“His family and friends will feel their loss acutely and I join others in sending them my sympathy.”