Tributes have flooded in for former Thomas Cook director Ian Derbyshire, who died on Tuesday.
Derbyshire, 49, suffered a brain haemorrhage in June 2014 and had been in a coma since. It is understood he recently had a stroke and friends said he passed away peacefully with his family at his side.
Derbyshire left Thomas Cook in 2011 to take up a role with his family firm, operating children’s playcentres in the north-west of England. During his career in travel, he also worked for Co-op Travelcare and Holiday Autos.
Former boss at Thomas Cook, Manny Fontenla-Novoa, who is now chairman of Magic Rooms, said: “Professionally, I was very lucky to have worked with Ian. He was much-admired, much-liked, hugely respected and I know all his friends and colleagues at Thomas Cook and the industry in general will feel like I do; that I was blessed to have known him.
“On a personal basis, it was an honour to have know Ian and his wonderful family. The care, devotion and love he received was truly amazing.
“His big fault as everybody will know, was that he was a passionate Man City fan. This year, in his memory, I hope they win the league, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup. I will cheer them all the way and even join in, a chorus of Blue Moon. I wouldn’t do that for anyone else other than my friend Ian. ”
Jacobs Media Group chairman Clive Jacobs, founder of Holiday Autos, said: “Like everyone that knew Ian, I am deeply saddened by his premature passing. Ian was a talented and wonderful human being. A great husband and father. The most loyal and hard-working person you could ever wish to meet. My thoughts are with Wendy and the family at this difficult time.”
Shearings Holidays managing director, Jane Atkins, said: “I first met Ian when I worked with his wife, Wendy, and we spent an afternoon water skiiing on Lake Windermere some 20 years ago.
“He worked at Co-Op Travelcare at that time. Little did I know our paths would cross throughout our careers, through two mergers, Going Places and The Co-Op, and through an army of shared friends and acquaintances, at many travel and personal functions. Ian had a real passion for the travel industry and was one of the most driven, focused and hard working individuals that I’ve met during my career. My heartfelt thoughts are with Wendy and the boys at this very sad time.”
Cosmos Tours & Cruises and Avalon Waterways chief executive Giles Hawke said: “Ian was extremely passionate about his job and about doing the best for Thomas Cook. He was a tough negotiator but at the end of every deal, we would go for a beer. His love of Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet) and Manchester City was widely known. He was a great guy.”
Richard Calvert, who worked with Derbyshire at Thomas Cook, and who is now chief executive of Shearings Holiday Group said: “I’ve never known a guy who worked so hard as Ian. He was an amazing family man and was besotted with his three kids. He will be sorely missed.”
Brian Young, managing director UK & EMEA for G Adventures, said: “When Ian decided to do something he was 150% committed to doing an amazing job – and he always did it with a smile on his face and he will he sorely missed.”
Caroline Wood, head of sales for inflight catering specialist Alpha LSG, said: “I had the pleasure of working with Ian for 12 years at Thomas Cook – he brought me in to the business just after the sponsorship agreement had been signed with Manchester City FC and this was effectively the birth of what was to become Thomas Cook Sport.
“Ian was one of the most inspirational leaders I have ever met – he possessed an amazing drive and positive energy no matter what the challenge or circumstance. He lived by his ‘mind maps’ and his passion always shone through – particularly in respect of the Sport business and anything to do with Manchester City FC!”
“A very sad time indeed for the UK travel industry which has lost a much loved and respected individual. My heartfelt condolences go out to Wendy and the boys. RIP Ian.”
Derbyshire leaves wife, Wendy, and sons Max, Ben and Jack.
Details of his funeral are yet to be announced.
Donate to Cleveland House care home
A JustGiving page has been set up to raise money for Cleveland House care home, in Lancashire, where Ian Derbyshire had been receiving care for two years.
Funds raised will be used to purchase food, toiletries, transport, bedding, clothing and other items.
Ian Derbyshire’s first travel employer Ken Garrity contacted Travel Weekly with a touching tribute
I took Ian on as a trainee straight from school at aged 16 at Carlton Travel, Sale, Cheshire.
He was a bright affable lad who although not well travelled was keen to learn. He developed quickly and had a great sense of customer care even though he was still learning he knew how to handle clients. A great asset to have. He also had great sales ability even at that age and became one of my best sales people.
I taught him amongst other things long-haul selling, especially to the USA and Australia, my favourite destinations and sent him on several trips to Florida, Los Angeles and took him to the Abta convention in Australia in the 1980s.
He was a junior golf champion and persuaded me to take up the game, teaching me a few things about the game, not that I was any good.
I knew he was ambitious and so it proved to be. After three years of teaching him the travel business he moved on and as you know eventually found his way to a directorship at Thomas Cook. We kept in touch every so often .He even said he was not sure how he got so far in the business.
Knowing his loving family, his father was a keen golfer and his sister worked for British Airways, I am so sad that he passed away so young and leaving a lovely wife and three children.
Ian we will miss you. RIP.
Ken Garrity Travel
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