Tributes paid to Emsworth businessman who passes away

FAMILY MAN Drew Gibson, pictured here with his youngest grandson Robert, who is now 18
FAMILY MAN Drew Gibson, pictured here with his youngest grandson Robert, who is now 18
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HIS entrepreneurial flair made him one of the most successful hoteliers in the area.

Drew Gibson, who has died at the age of 85, opened The Brookfield Hotel in Emsworth in 1972.

A small family-owned establishment, the hotel had just five bedrooms at the start.

Decades later it has 41 bedrooms, a 120-cover restaurant, two function rooms and a glowing reputation.

Glasgow-born Mr Gibson had a background in aviation engineering before getting into the hotel trade.

His first job was working for the De Havilland Aircraft Company.

He married Joyce Palmer on April 11, 1955, supporting his wife as she started a hairdressing business in Emsworth in 1957.

Mr Gibson joined Joyce in the business and together they bought another salon in Emsworth.

His hotel career began with evening classes in hospitality at Highbury College in Cosham, Portsmouth.

An early member of Emsworth Business Association, he bought Brookfield House in Havant Road in 1971, opening the hotel business the following year.

He retained ownership of the hotel until he sold it in 2006.

Councillor Gwen Blackett, a long-standing councillor at Havant Borough Council, said: ‘Drew was probably our most energetic local entrepreneur in the last 50 years.

‘His activities brought much credit and business to the borough of Havant as he developed his small residential hotel into the highly successful Brookfield Hotel that it now is.

‘He was also very much involved pro oting Havant borough through the Emsworth Business Association and latterly the support of the Emsworth Food Festival.

‘I was always impressed by his cheerful disposition – and his generous nature as he unfailingly practised the maxim “the customer is always right”.

‘I am in no doubt that it was this attitude that largely accounted for his success.’

With his passion for food and wine, Mr Gibson was a long-term member of PIGS – the Promotion of International Gastronomic Society, holding a chairmanship of the society between 1987 and 1988.

Mr Gibson was also a long-term member of Portsmouth North Rotary Club.

Gerry Shurman, head of catering, hospitality and travel at South Downs College, said: ‘His passion for our industry, education of students and in particular the PIGS gained my greatest respect and admiration.

‘As the proprietor of the area’s first quality hotel Drew’s strength of character, standing in the community and support to the college has been part of the history of catering at South Downs.’

Mr Gibson, who lived in Langstone, died at Queen Alexandra Hospital on March 11.

He is survived by his wife Joyce, son Alistair Gibson, and grandsons Christopher, James, and Robert.

· Drew Gibson: Born: June 28, 1926; Died: March 11, 2012