A BUSINESSMAN whose chain of estate agencies blazed a trail for others to follow has died, aged 70.
Trevor Southern, who lived with his wife Pat in Durham City, passed away peacefully in Newcastle's RVI hospital earlier this week, surrounded by his devoted family.
Born in Gateshead, he studied at his home town's Technical College before starting work at Elliott Hedley in Whitley Bay.
He subsequently was appointed to a post with Turnbull and Parkinson in Durham before branching out on his own and opening his first estate agency business in Ferryhill.
He quickly opened branches in Spennymoor, Sedgefield and Bishop Auckland, leading to a total of 16 offices across County Durham.
During his rise, Mr Southern was assisted by a number of partners some of whom went on to open their own successful outlets.
Friends said he possessed a dynamic business style combined with a down-to-earth approach which won him many loyal clients.
He eventually sold his chain to Abbey National Building Society, which went on to operate the offices under the Cornerstone brand.
Later, he successfully moved into property development and he remained heavily involved in his business interests right up to his death.
Mr Southern was a keen Newcastle United fan and played for Coxhoe Cricket Club until he was 64.
His family said following his death tributes had flooded in from friends and colleagues, describing him as a true gentleman and one of the North-East's most impressive business achievers.
He is survived by his wife Pat, children Jonathan, Vanessa, James and William and beloved granddaughter Rachael.
Mr Southern’s funeral service will be held at St Oswald's Church, in Durham City, on Tuesday at 12.15pm.