Tributes have been paid to Hotelplan product director Steph Pritchard who died of cancer on Sunday aged 57.

She had worked for the parent company of brands such as Inghams and Ski Esprit for almost three years.

Pritchard previously spent more than 20 years with Tui including time as managing director of Sovereign and Citalia when they were part of the group under the Specialist Holidays Group umbrella.

Hotelplan chief executive Paul Carter said: “According to one of her team, Steph had an amazingly positive attitude, and there was always a solution to whatever work or life threw at her. Steph worked hard and played hard to the end.

“It was Steph’s express wishes over the past few weeks that only a handful of people should know about her cancer diagnosis.

“Only last week, for the very first time in her life, Steph had needed to stay in hospital. Something that was so typically Steph – she wanted to keep working.

“She continued to join our Teams calls and was responding to messages until Friday afternoon, just before she picked up an infection that tragically meant she was taken from us so young.”

He added: “Steph was an inspirational role model for so many aspiring leaders, especially women, and someone who had made a real difference as product director in our business, just as she had done throughout her stellar career before at Citalia,Sovereign, First Choice/Tui.

“Always fun to be around; formidable to work alongside; a work ethic like none other; and a generous and demanding leader of people.”

Funeral arrangements will likely be restricted to a handful of close family, and this will take place in North Wales.

Carter said: “When the time is right, we will arrange a memorial service, so we can raise a glass of gin & tonic or champagne, and honour her memory and celebrate a wonderful life, lived to the full.”

Former Tui Travel UK and Ireland managing director Dermot Blastland led tributes to Steph, saying: “She was a great person personally and professionally.

“She worked hard, knew her stuff and had that lovely ability to get everyone to work together to find a solution.

“Steph was a person who you always wanted on your team. Great fun and was always the same Steph no matter what the pressure.”

Cheryl Brown, managing director of Le Boat, part of Travelopia, said: “Steph was one of the most beautiful people you could ever meet with a heart of gold.

“I’m not sure how she ever became a tour operator with her golden heart but that’s what made her one of the best.

“Everyone just loved her and wanted to help, support and work with her. She achieved so much and has been taken from us all far too soon.

“We are going to miss you so much Steph…rest in peace beautiful lady.”

Former First Choice boss John Wimbleton said:  “Such sad news, a lovely talented lady who saw Sovereign through many changes over the years .
“Passionate, knowledgeable and fun. She earned the respect of everyone she worked with and adored by many hoteliers with whom she grew the business.”