Tributes have been paid to former Manchester Pride chief executive John Stewart following his death.
Mr Stewart, who had been diagnosed with cancer, died on Saturday aged 49. He joined Pride, the LGBTQ+ charity that organizes the annual Pride festival, in January 2012, but stepped down 22 months later.
During his time in the role he oversaw the Supersonic event at Manchester Airport’s Concorde Hangar and the introduction of the new dance arena at the Big Weekend.
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Manchester Pride CEO Mark Fletcher said: “It is incredibly sad to hear of John’s passing. He was an important part of the history of Manchester Pride and it was a pleasure working with him while he was with the charity. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.”
Born in Kilmarnock in Scotland, Mr Stewart studied church history and politics at Aberdeen University, where he met his future husband, Neil Fletcher in 1992. When civil partnerships became law in 2005 they became one of the first couples in Scotland to have a wedding.
Mr Fletcher said: “John lived a full and good life. I am honored that he chose me as his life partner.”
After graduating Mr Stewart entered politics, volunteering for Sir Robert Smith’s campaign in West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine in the 1997 general election. He went on to become Sir Robert’s election agent in successful campaigns in 2001 and 2005. Mr Stewart was elected as Liberal Democrat councilor in Aberdeen in 2003 and went on to become leader of the city council.
After stepping down from the council Mr Stewart and Mr Fletcher moved to Manchester before taking up the role at Pride. Most recently Mr Stewart worked for the Residential Landlords Association.
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA said: “We are desperately sad to learn of John’s passing. During his time at the NRLA, and prior to that the RLA, John was a popular and valued friend, colleague and mentor.
“He worked tirelessly for the organization and its members with passion and conviction. Known for his love of Eurovision and Kilmarnock FC, John was well respected within the industry for his knowledge and experience and was committed to creating a fair and well-functioning private rented sector for landlords and tenants alike.
“Whilst we mourn his loss, we fondly remember his sense of humour, and the kindness and support he showed towards those he met and worked with. These continued to be his hallmarks, even as he faced his devastating diagnosis. Our heartfelt sympathies go to John’s husband, Neil, and his wider family and friends at this difficult time.”
Outside of work Mr Stewart enjoyed hill walking with the charity Outdoor Lads. He and Mr Fletcher were early investors and supporters of Brewdog, the Aberdeenshire craft beer brewer, and visited over 90 bars throughout the UK and abroad.
A lifelong supporter of Kilmarnock football club, he enjoyed pub life and attending the music scene in Manchester. He is survived by Neil and his brothers Alex and Jie.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.