Event industry pays tribute to Arthur Somerset

Tributes have been flooding in for industry legend Arthur Somerset who tragically passed away yesterday afternoon (25 July).

Arthur Somerset has passed away
Arthur Somerset has passed away

Famed for his fun loving personality, outlandish suits, and more importantly for helping shape the event industry, Somerset suddenly passed away after falling ill at his most recent workplace, Forman's Fish Island.

The former CEO of Mask, an event management company that set the bar in terms of producing creative events, played a very active role in the industry and was also a former president of the International Special Events Society (ISES).

He was one of the first contributors to RSVP magazine, Event's now defunct sister title, where he had his own column 'Ask Arthur' answering the industry's questions and providing essential advice.

Jeremy King, editor of Event, said: "Arthur was one of the first people to embrace RSVP magazine when I launched it alongside Mike Fletcher in 2004. He not only believed in the magazine, but he ensured we were respected by the entire creative event industry very swiftly.

"More importantly he was a great man to know, full of life, fun to be around, and totally dedicated to his family. This is a real tragedy for the industry and he will be sorely missed, particularly at a time when the world's biggest event is about to start in London. Mine and the entire Event team's thoughts are with Arthur's wife Tanya and his three young children," he added.

Chairman of the Concerto Group Mike Kershaw said: "Arthur was a great friend for almost 25 years. He started Mask at about the same time as Guy Rodger and I started The Ultimate Experience and we all mucked in together in the early days to help get the London corporate party industry off the ground. He was a great creative talent, wonderful company and dedicated to the special event industry. You knew you were in an Arthur party the moment you walked into it, and sometimes even before you walked in.

"A unique character with his own distinct style, Arthur built Mask into a defining party organising business and I was honoured that he came to me in 2008 when he decided to move on to other challenges and wanted to leave the Mask brand in safe hands. His colourful and creative legacy lives on in Mask, which is now a very proud, successful and important brand within Concerto.

"He cared deeply about the industry and worked very hard during the two years he was President of ISES to make a difference to the smaller companies and creative suppliers, including helping influence the Government to increase the tax band for events - a measure that made a huge difference to the Christmas party market and thereby the hundreds of suppliers working in it.

"I am devastated for Tanya and his lovely family and I genuinely feel the industry has lost one of its key personalities. A truly unique, inspirational and utterly irreplaceable figure in the UK events industry. Everyone who knew him will miss his warmth, humour and style - and boy could he play the piano."

Danielle Nay, managing director for Transformer Dubai, told Event: "Renowned for his kind heart and witty personality, Arthur was a true creative and a talented artist. The first time we met was in the mid-90s. A photograph he shared of a white grand piano floating in the middle of a lake at a 'surreal' themed party he had produced at a stately home inspired me to start my own party business.

"Later he and Tanya devised a hilarious two-header cabaret show with her perched on his piano singing. They took it to Edinburgh and fell in love. When I produced a premiere event for a Laurel & Hardy DVD box set, Arthur played the piano, by ear, in the style of the silent movies at the after-party. He was a generous and supportive mentor to me and to many others in the industry. This is a terrible loss and we will miss him enormously. My heart is 100% with his beautiful family today," she added.

Other industry figures including Mike Fletcher, Robert Wright, Simon Mitchell, Sam Gill and Will Broome have all expressed their sorrow at Somerset's passing.

As a tribute to Somerset please post your favourite Arthur memory underneath this story.

Event will be hosting a minute's silence before the Event Awards judging starts this morning and this evening at the beginning of its pre-Olympics party in the House of Nations, where it will join the rest of the industry in raising a glass to Somerset.

For more in-depth and print-only Olympics features with official brands, don't miss the next issue of Event magazine by subscribing here.

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