Tributes have been paid to a born-and-bred Mansfield businessman who passed away last Wednesday whilst playing tennis in Belfast.
A proud product of Manor School in Mansfield Woodhouse, John Bills, 59, forged for himself a stellar career, going on to run large blue chip media businesses around the country.
Building on his local schooling and upbringing, Mr Bills started his career as a motors rep for this newspaper, where he formed strong and lasting connections with businesses across the region.
As his career progressed, Mr Bills returned to the town in 2011 when he was appointed Managing Director for the Chad and its sister titles.
One of his passions in life was rugby, and leading the tributes to a man fondly remembered this week was Mansfield Rugby Club chairman Andy Foster.
He said: "This is desperately sad news. There will be many people who would have known John either through our rugby playing days, work or school and this will come as a shock."
“Our thoughts are with his partner Jo and all the family at the sad loss of a truly remarkable, wonderful and extraordinary man who was an inspiration to many of us as well as a much loved friend.”
Adding to the tributes, the now editor of The Yorkshire Post, James Mitchinson, who worked with Mr Bills at Chad newspapers for the best part of a decade said: "The town has lost someone who was proud of where he came from and proud to tell others he was from Mansfield. I loved that about him."
"With my having been to Meden Comprehensive School and John to Manor we shared an upbringing that gave us an awful lot in common; a steely pragmatism which helped us to get things done as a team and done well, but always remembering to put your people first, no matter what. He drilled that into me."
"John taught me a style of management that helps to challenge and develop people in the right way, in the hope they fly higher than you ever could. He'll be sorely missed."
David King, JPIMedia Chief Executive, said: “John’s personal commitment and determination had a real impact on the people around him. Our condolences have been sent to John’s family.”