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Tributes pour in for events industry stalwart Graham Frazer

IVCA Fellowship Award recipient passes away aged 69

Graham Frazer

Events professionals have expressed shock and sadness over the passing of widely-loved industry veteran Graham Frazer, who passed away last week. 

The industry stalwart, who dedicated more than 40 years to the industry, died in the arms of his wife Katie after losing his battle to cancer. He was 69 years old.

Fellow event professionals have remembered him as a modest and hard-working person, who had a talent for delivering large-scale events and would spend up to 200 days a year abroad.

Frazer studied as a lawyer but was said to have hated it and moved into travel by accident before becoming involved in incentive travel and events.

He came into the business with S&H green stamp company, where he helped start the Travel Awards in 1973. Frazer later bought it out from S&H with three partners and built it up to £10 million turnover, before selling it to Grass Roots in 1993.

Frazer then went to Maritz where he spent 14 years and was serving as vice-president when Grass Roots bought the company in 2006.

Frazer was later appointed deputy chairman of Grass Roots and oversaw the automotive sector, handling launches for brands such as Jaguar, Toyota, Bentley and Rolls-Royce.

In 2010 Frazer was awarded an IVCA Fellowship Award, recognising outstanding achievement in the communications industry, alongside Sir Michael Parkinson CBE. That same year Frazer left Grass Roots to join Imagination as international development director, before being promoted to director of travel and logistics.

In 2013 Frazer retired from the industry, but said he would carry working on projects with long-term clients such as Jaguar 'as long as people wanted him to'.

While his achievements were extraordinary, he will be best remembered as a true gentleman of the industry. Industry leaders say he was modest and understated and was keen to help young professionals achieve their ambitions.

An emotional Grass Roots chair David Hackett said Frazer was a joy to be around.

"We both got involved with the London Olympics; he with Imagination and me with Smart Hospitality, and that was the closest we ever got to working together," he said. "But we've known each other since the early 80s and have become good friends, as did our wives. He and Katie were a very devoted couple and a joy to share time with.

"Graham and I last shared lunch together in December and athough he'd been fighting this cancer for two years, he was in great form - as ever, enjoying his Sauv Blanc. So obviously I'm really saddened to hear about his sudden decline and death."

Hackett said Frazer was committed to his work.

"His knowledge, enthusiasm and commitment was renowned. He spent as many as 200 days a year abroad, and travel was his passion," he said.

"One particular piece of his reputation was that he'd read about a hotel in the Sunday Times, book his flight on Monday and then would fly out to the destination Tuesday, often getting to the airport by 6am and getting home by midnight. All this so he could talk knowledgably about the hotel and venue."

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