As reported in our news section, the late Nicky Fewer has been justly hailed as a man who was driven with a deep desire to see ‘Waterford.inc’ firmly imprinted upon the Irish business map.
The tributes to Mr Fewer, who died on Thursday last, have been as plentiful as they have been deserved, with the staff of Waterford Airport, which he chaired, expressing their deep sympathy to the Fewer family.
Nicky Fewer was appointed chairman of the airport board in 2002, having served as a director at the Killowen facility since 1986.
Like so many other local ventures which became both personal and professional missions, making Waterford Airport a viable commercial operation was always high on Mr Fewer’s agenda.
The airport of 2009 is a far cry from the crisis-hit guise it once wore; its turnaround due in no small part to the graft and craft of Mr Fewer.
“Nicky was a driving force behind Waterford Airport for many years,” said Airport Chief Executive Graham Doyle. “His incredible energy will be very greatly missed by us all.”
Mr Doyle added: “We saw first-hand his irrepressible passion for Waterford and the entire region and his huge personal commitment to so many aspects of the community.
“We won’t forget that passion as we continue to improve our airport, city and region over the coming years.
“On a personal level, I will always remember how bravely Nicky fought his illness, ploughed on and maintained his great sense of humour throughout. My thoughts and those of everyone at the airport are with his wife Maria and son Ian.”
Airport Deputy Chairman Dan Browne spoke in equally glowing terms of a bona fide Waterford giant.
“Nicky was responsible for guiding the airport through some real challenges and it is no exaggeration to say that his energy and drive were absolutely central to forging the partnership with Aer Arann that helped develop a wider range of passenger services and place the airport on a more solid footing.
“Under Nicky’s chairmanship passenger numbers at Waterford Airport grew from 26,000 in 2001 to 145,000 in 2008.
“His vision was to grow the airport to handle 500,000 passengers and everyone involved in the airport will be working to make this vision a reality.
“He also led negotiations with Government at key points in the airport’s development and helped secure State funding for marketing and infrastructure investment as well as securing the long-term provision of Search and Rescue services from the Waterford base.
“A great friend who was always quick to highlight the fun in situations, Nicky will be sadly missed by all of us and we commiserate at this difficult time with Maria, Ian and the extended family.”
The staff of the Pilot Training College at Killowen also offered their sympathies, saluting a “significant and inspirational leader” who afforded its staff and management ceaseless support and encouragement.
As a mark of respect, flight training at the PTC was suspended until Monday of this week.