Tributes from across the business spectrum have flooded in for Nigel Vaulkhard following his death.
Bob Senior, managing director of Utopian Leisure, paid tribute to Mr Vaulkhard’s impact on the Tyneside bar scene after moving from south Wales in the 1970s.
He said: “We were effectively business rivals, competing for the leisure pound – but Nigel never got fired up about the competition.
“He was very clever, he ploughed his own furrow and did not worry about what other people were doing – he was pretty sure that he was right and so often, almost always, and annoyingly, he was right.
“I don’t know anybody that hasn’t got a tremendous fondness for the man, regardless of whether they were competing with him, like I was.
“I think you’d struggle to find another character who had the ability to do what he did and still remain well liked, but he achieved that and more.
“Nigel came, changed drinking habits in Newcastle, brought new standards to bars and made the city his home.”
Adam Serfontein, managing director of Hanro, who knew Mr Vaulkhard for more than 28 years, said: “I am privileged to have known Nigel – a giant of a man, who had a tremendous work ethic.
“He was an absolute gentleman who didn’t suffer fools gladly and had a fantastic sense of humour.
“I have immense respect for him personally and professionally, he was one of life’s characters.
“He was blessed to have Heather, a lovely lady and a real dynamo.
“It’s been lovely to see over the last 10 years, some of Nigel’s traits being passed on to his sons, Ollie and Harry, who are gentlemen, like their dad. So many people will miss him, he was a lovely guy.”
Geoff Hodgson, chairman of the Inn Collection and former chief executive of Federation Breweries, said: “He’s the guy that everyone else followed, there have been many impersonators but no one has done it quite like Nigel.”
Richard Coleman, team principle of Bamboo Engineering, said: “He loved the giant-slaying element of our team’s successes being the plucky underdogs. He was an absolutely outstanding man, a deal maker who knew which risks to take and who to trust.”