Son of bar tycoon Nigel Vaulkhard reveals desperate fight to save his life

66-year-old Nigel Vaulkhard collapsed during a cycling trip in remote Northumberland last week and later died in hospital

Mr Vaulkhard was airlifted to hospital but could not be saved

Loved ones of a bar tycoon who collapsed and died during a cycling trip in an isolated Northumberland wood have told how they fought to save his life before paramedics arrived.

Nigel Vaulkhard was airlifted to hospital after suffering a suspected heart attack as he cycled with his sons, Ollie, 42, and Harry, 28, on an off-road trail just north of Longframlington last Wednesday.

Ollie described his father as a “huge personality and a huge character” as he told how he carried out CPR for up to 40 minutes as the emergency services battled to reach the remote spot.

A helicopter was deployed from RAF Boulmer and the 66-year-old, who lived in Adderstone Crescent, Jesmond, with his wife of nearly 30 years, Heather, was rushed to an intensive care unit and put on a life support machine.

Ollie revealed his family had said their final farewells the following day before Mr Vaulkhard’s organs were donated. Ollie, managing director of the Fluid group, said: “My brother and I were there and so it was pretty traumatic. We had to give him CPR for a long time before the paramedics could get to us.


“He had a light fall and whether he had a heart attack before or after the fall we will never know. Within 20 seconds he was not breathing and so we performed CPR for a long time before we could get medical people to him. The ambulance were just amazing – they took off gates and worked so hard to get to us.”

He added: “On Thursday we were talking to doctors and we were coming to terms with the fact he wasn’t going to recover. He was on the organ donor register because a family member had received a liver and he wanted to donate his organs because of that.

“As a family we woke up on Friday morning thinking we’ve lost our dad and husband and we were in a really bad place. But we knew there were people in their hospital beds whose lives have been changed and someone’s dad is still alive. It helped us cope.”

Mr Vaulkhard, a grandfather-of-two, became a prominent businessman on Tyneside during the 1970s and went on to own and operate bars including Bar 42, 42nd Street, Pacific Bar, Gotham Town, Offshore 44 and Redhouse.

After selling his business more than a decade ago, the keen classic touring cars racer became involved in international motorsports and he managed his youngest son, Harry’s, career.

The motorsports team he created, Bamboo Engineering, was formed in 2009 and competed in the British Touring Car Championships. Paying tribute to his dad, Ollie said: “He was a huge personality and a huge, huge character. He was very humble and involved an awful lot in business. He was a very understated but very sharp man.

“You would sum him up with his humour. He crossed generations – you could go into a restaurant and there’d be an 80-year-old who would talk to him but also younger people.

“It’s a huge tragedy – he was far too young to go. We are a tight family and we’re are staying strong. We’ve had literally hundreds of emails, text messages and Facebook messages and it means a huge amount.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer