GWENT businessman Dr Alfred Gooding, described as “one of the big characters in Wales”, has died aged 85.

Dr Gooding, known as Alf, was best known for setting up Catnic - credited with developing the steel lintel for the building industry.

He was also awarded the OBE for his record in business and was a former chairman of CBI Wales.

Other business interests over the years included Modern Building Wales Limited, which was formed in the 1950s and which built 7,000 houses across Wales, and Race Electronics, which was founded in the 1980s in partnership with Japanese business interests. In 2007, he organised a bid to buy the troubled bank Northern Rock.

Dr Gooding was born in Risca and was the son of a miner. In 2009, the Chambers of Commerce Business recognised his contribution to Welsh business by awarding him with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The following year he was awarded a fellowship from the University of Wales.

Dr Gooding died peacefully on January 29. He is survived by his wife Lavinia, known as Peggy, children Russell, Joanne and Lloyd, and his grandchildren.

Christine Wilde, managing director at Catnic, said: “We are all extremely sad to hear the news of Alfred Gooding. In a career that spanned more than 50 years, he founded our business in 1969, and helped to revolutionise the building industry from right here in Caerphilly. Our thoughts remain with his family at this difficult time.”

Ian Price, CBI Wales director, said: “The CBI in Wales is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our former chairman Alf Gooding OBE.

“Alf was very much a true Welsh entrepreneur and was one of leading names in the business community in 80s and 90s. What he achieved at Catnic and Race Electronics is still very much remembered. His contribution to Welsh business life is unquestioned.”

Gerald Davies, executive chairman of Newport-based Kymin Financial Services, added: “Alf Gooding was many different people. He was an entrepreneur who founded businesses in Newport and elsewhere.

“He was a big player in the CBI. Over the years he employed many people but was still a family man who valued the good things in life, like friendship and fair dealing. He was unfailingly polite but also straightforward in business.

Mr Davies added: “One of the big characters in Wales and on the wider stage, many of us will miss him. Most of all, he had a store of funny stories with he used to entertain his friends. Like all who knew him socially, I will remember him with respect and affection.”

His funeral service will take place at St Basils Church, in Bassaleg tomorrow.

This will be followed by interment at Rogerstone and Bassaleg Cemetery.