Tributes paid as inspirational businessman Mark Hird loses cancer battle aged 47

Tributes have been paid to a popular businessman who has died at the age of just 47.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 1:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th December 2019, 7:01 pm
Mark Hird, the popular Poetic License distillery founder who has died aged 47.

Mark Hird, the founder and managing director of the Tavistock Hospitality Group, passed away after a long courageous battle with cancer on Tuesday, December 3.

He was known throughout the hospitality, distillery and brewery industry for his energy, leadership and innovative ideas.

With a family background in the hospitality industry, Mark graduated in 1994 and worked in various restaurants before opening his own establishment in 2000. This was the award winning 11 Tavistock Place, which he ran with his wife Nicola.

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Over the next 19 years Mark and Nicola opened over 30 properties under different brand names. These included Tavistock Italia, Sonnet 43 Gastro Pubs, Tavistock Thai China, Italian Farmhouse and their flagship business, the Roker Hotel. Tavistock Hospitality has also previously run the Grand Hotel in Hartlepool and the Italia Retro restaurant in South Shields.

The businesses won many awards, both locally and nationally, with the Publican Award for “best value gastro pub chain” a particular highlight.

Inspired by locally sourced produce, Mark set up a micro-brewery in early 2015 to brew his own craft beer. This led to the development of S43 Brewery, which was formerly known as Sonnet 43, which still continues to grow.

The Poetic License Distillery, was developed in 2015. Based on Roker Terrace, it is noted for the quality of its gin products and also continues to grow, with major contracts now in place with supermarkets and pub chains.

The engaging businessman made many friends. He was also a devoted family man who leaves behind three children.

In a statement the Tavistock Group referred to Mark as “a pioneer of the catering industry” and to “his wonderful charisma, energy for life and


Jonathan Graham, operations director of the Tavistock Group and a long-standing friend, 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.

“Our aim now is for Tavistock to continue to grow and strive as a business. We will do this in Mark’s memory.”