Tributes have been paid to a Sunderland-raised company boss who has died after battling cancer.
Chief executive of Esh Group, Brian Manning, passed away last week following a short battle with cancer.
Brian, who led the steady growth of Esh Group since the early 1990s, earned a significant reputation as one of the North East’s most astute businessmen with a vision to serve the community.
He had recently celebrated his 60th birthday.
Esh Group chairman Michael Hogan said: “All of our thoughts are with Brian’s family at this very sad time.
“The success of Esh Group is a massive testament to Brian as a person and a businessman, and all staff are united in continuing his remarkable legacy, in his memory.”
Brian started his career in 1973, having joined Monk Construction as a trainee site engineer from school, Hylton Red House Comprehensive.
Soon he’d worked his way up to contracts manager with the firm and in 1990 left to join Lumsden and Carroll - a founding company of Esh Group - before becoming managing director in 1991.
At the time the company turnover was around £3million and the workforce totalled 62.
He was instrumental in the formation of Esh Holdings in 1999, the precursor to the Esh Group.
The intervening 26 years has seen turnover grow to more than £270million - part of a remarkable growth story of which Brian was a key protagonist.
In addition to his busy role at Esh Group, Brian also held a number of voluntary and non-executive roles through which his influence was felt.
He was vice president, board and Council member of the North East Chamber of Commerce; chairman of Durham Committee North East Chamber of Commerce; board member Changing Lives; board member Northumberland Arch; advisory board member Business Durham; board member Castle View Enterprise Academy; and member of the Regional Leadership team for BITC and Regional Council of CBI.
Tributes to Brian have come from across the North East business community.
James Ramsbotham, chief executive, North East England Chamber of Commerce, said: “I have been privileged to have worked with Brian Manning in several guises over the last 25 years, first as his Bank Manager, then as a colleague within Esh Group and latterly with him as Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce.
“During all of that time I have held him in the highest regard as a businessman and a friend, always dependable and usually right.
"He never shirked a challenge and imparted strength and determination to all those around him."
Mr Ramsbotham added: “He leaves an incredible legacy and so many people, many of whom never even knew him, owe him more than they will ever know."
Brian leaves behind his wife Sue, daughters Clair and Sarah, sons in law Wes and Kurt, and grandchildren Joseph, Archie and Ava.
A funeral service will be held in Sunderland Crematorium on Tuesday at 12.30pm.
Family flowers only, a collection will be provided at the crematorium for a charity of the family’s choice.
Family and friends are welcome to attend in celebration of Brian’s life after the service at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Durham, DH1 5TA.
All enquiries to Peter Dodd Funeral Directors, Grindon, telephone 520 0666.