Tributes to South Shields-born Sunderland fan who helped London's Olympics bid
Tributes have been paid to one of the masterminds behind London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympics following his death at the age of 61.
Communications expert Mike Lee was born in South Shields and was a keen Sunderland fan.
He was director of communications and public affairs for London's Olympics bid and was awarded an OBE in 2005 after the Games were secured.
Lee, who was married to Football Association director Heather Rabbatts, died on Saturday from a heart attack.
He is also survived by son Alex and stepson Euan.
Among those to pay tribute to him were 2012 bid chairman Seb Coe, who said: "Mike was a passionate and exceptional communicator, one of the best of his generation.
"He fought for causes, left no stone unturned in projects he believed in and was a committed father and husband.
"My thoughts are with his family who I know he treasured above all else."
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Shortly after helping London win the 2012 bid, Lee founded Vero Communications, a London-based public relations firm which specialises in helping cities and countries win bids for major events.
Among Vero's many successes in recent years have been Rio's bid for the 2016 Games, PyeongChang's application for the 2018 Winter Games and the campaign that gave the 2024 Games to Paris.
Prior to working for London 2012, Lee was director of communications at European football governing body Uefa and worked for the Premier League in this country as a political strategist.
Lee, who had been unwell for several months, had taken a back seat at Vero in recent months to study for a master's degree and to spend more time cycling.
Vero director John Zerafa said: "He was a force in communications, always inspiring, challenging and innovative, and leaves an indelible legacy in the world of sport.
"He will be deeply missed by all those who have worked with him, and been advised by him.
On behalf of the entire Vero team, our thoughts are with Mike’s wife Heather, his son Alex and stepson Euan.”