Tributes are pouring in from the exhibition industry for Peter Osborne, the ‘father’ and founder of Haymarket Exhibitions, who passed away on 22 December.
Osborne, 71, joined Haymarket in 1969 and worked in sales for eight years before leaving to buy a pub and build a restaurant in East Sussex.
In 1982, he returned to Haymarket and went on to become managing director of its business and medical publishing divisions. In 1990, he created Haymarket Exhibitions, paving the way for the industry before retiring after 38 years at the company in 2007.
Rob Nathan, Media 10 marketing director and Osborne’s nephew said: “This has been devastating news for our family and his passing is a tremendous loss for the events industry. I am sure that all will agree that the industry has lost a unique, charismatic, loveable figure. No one that crossed his path will ever forget his inimitable style and the exhibition industry is now a distinctly poorer place.
“One thing is for sure, if there is a queue for the Pearly Gates, Peter will be shouting and creating order amongst the chaos. He was also my uncle and the reason I got into exhibitions. He was an incredible character – terrifying, energetic, creative and was a visionary in this game.”
Rupert Heseltine, executive chairman at Haymarket said he was a completely unique individual and deeply loved by everyone. “Peter was the most extraordinary character. He was a unique individual and changed the face of exhibitions forever. He started Haymarket Exhibitions with a telephone and directory and went on to create some of the best-known events in the business; he always wanted to make events and exhibitions fun and interactive. Live action will always be one of his greatest legacies. He was my first real boss at Haymarket and I look back at him with the fondest of memories, and to this day when thinking about our exhibitions, I always ask myself what would Peter do?”
Chris Hughes, chief executive of Brand Events commented: “He was an amazing guy. Talented, funny, tough and inspirational. Even when he drove you mad, you couldn’t help but love him. Working with him was one of the most educational and inspirational experiences of my life. When working I probably think about him every day. I also think BBC Haymarket massively changed our industry and Peter did that. Paving the way for all the companies we now work for.”
Chris Skeith, chief executive officer, AEO said: “I vividly remember my first meeting with Peter, he scared the life out of me initially, but we went onto some frank and honest conversations, and then I walked away with one of the biggest audit sales I ever did!”
Keith Harris of Quartz Business Media said: “A great character. I remember him coming to my offices when he had just taken on the fledgling exhibition division – turned up in a flash white Jag sports car–we were all impressed! And how quickly he built that division up into being a real force in consumer shows.”
His funeral will be held on Monday 11 January at Edgwarebury Cemetery, Edgware Lane, Middlesex. Further tributes from Peter’s industry friends will be published in the February issue of EN.
Image L-R: Lord Heseltine, Anthony Tobias being presented with the first Peter Osborne Award for ‘outstanding’ service to the company, and Peter Osborne