A NORTH-East pub and brewery owner who had venues across the region has died after a long battle with cancer.

Mark Hird, founder and managing director of Sunderland-based Tavistock Hospitality Group, was widely known throughout the hospitality, distillery and brewery industry.

The 47-year-old had renovated and opened more than 30 properties in the North-East, including Sonnet 43 Brewery, now S43, in Coxhoe, in County Durham and Poetic Licence Distillery, in Sunderland.

Some of his other venues included Tavistock Italia, Sonnet 43 Gastro Pubs, Tavistock Thai China, Italian Farmhouse and the flagship Roker Hotel.

The father-of-three died on Tuesday following a long illness.

Those who knew and worked with Mr Hird have paid tribute to him as a devoted family man, describing his "wonderful charisma", kindness and energy for life.

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”

Known as a pioneer of the catering industry, he graduated in 1994 and worked in various eateries before opening his own restaurant in 2000, which was 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 under different brands, winning a number of national awards.

After decided he wanted to brew his own beer, he opened a microbrewery in Coxhoe in 2012, naming it after the most famous work of 19th century poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who was born near the village.

He later developed the successful Poetic Licence Distillery, opened in 2015, which has continued to grow and has major contracts in place with supermarkets and pub chains.

He is survived by his wife Nicola and children Grace, Amelia and Charlie.