Mark Hird, the founder and managing director of the Sunderland-based Tavistock Hospitality Group, has passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Mark, who died aged 47, was widely known throughout the hospitality, distilling and brewing industry as an energetic man and leader, forever driving innovation and new ideas.

He graduated in 1994 and worked in various restaurants before opening his own restaurant in 2000, the award-winning 11 Tavistock Place, with his wife, Nicola.

Over the next 19 years the couple opened and renovated more than 30 properties in the North East under different brands, such as Tavistock Italia, Sonnet 43 Gastro Pubs, Tavistock Thai China, Italian Farmhouse, and the flagship Roker Hotel. 

The business won many awards, with the Publican Award for best value gastro pub chain being a highlight.

Mark made many lasting friendships

After finding inspiration in locally-sourced produce, Mark set up a microbrewery in early 2015 so he could brew his own craft beer. This led to the development of S43 Brewery (formerly Sonnet 43), which is currently enjoying fantastic growth.

Poetic License Distillery was developed in 2015 in an expanding market. The distillery has continued to grow, with major contracts in place with supermarkets and pub chains.

Mark made many lasting friendships through his wonderful charisma, energy for life, and kindness. He was also a devoted family man with a beautiful wife and three wonderful children.

Jonathan Graham, operations director of the Tavistock Group, said: “I am deeply saddened to announce the passing of Mark — he was a true inspiration. I have a lost a best friend of 30 years and the world has lost a wonderful man.”

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