Tributes have been pouring in following the death of former chef Peter Kay, who worked as a consultant for Hospitality Action's alcohol and drug seminars, formerly known as the Ark Foundation.
Heston Blumenthal, a patron of Hospitality Action (HA), said Kay had "a good heart", but also had the ability to speak the unspeakable, which, while some people struggled to handle, was always truthful.
"In a discussion with people there would always be an elephant in the room, and Peter would go straight there. It was very powerful. He was pretty damaged himself having fought to come back from the dead 20-odd years ago, but he had such a fantastic character. Whether that character was forged from his own repair work, I don't know, but he did great work."
Blumenthal, a keen supporter of HA, added that it was Kay who introduced him to the charity. "I can honestly say that a big chunk of my awareness has really come from Peter. He had the ability to open up about himself and make others secure enough to open up too. It was a real talent.
"I have to say the drug abuse in the industry is at a much lower level than it was in the 1990s from what I see, and a lot of that was down to him."
Fellow HA patron Jamie Oliver, who worked with Kay in the early years of Fifteen, commented: "I'm very saddened by the news of Peter Kay. He worked closely with Fifteen when we started back in 2002, and was instrumental in helping some of our people through tough times. He was inspirational in his work to stop addiction in the workplace and was one of the good guys."
Kay, who was brought on board to support the Ark Foundation by founder Michael Quinn, spent the last decade-or-so of his life working hand in hand with the sports world to combat addiction in drink, drugs and gambling. Having founded the Sporting Chance Clinic with former Arsenal and England defender Tony Adams in 2000, he worked as chief executive of the organisation from 2008. He stepped down from the post approximately 18 months ago to concentrate on his health.
However, having trained and worked as a chef for many years, Kay, who fought drink and drugs for much of his adult life, was keen to help his
own trade and spent much of his time raising awareness of the dangers of alcohol and drugs across the two worlds of hospitality and football.
Philip Howard, chef-proprietor of the Square, London, who was interviewed by Kay for Caterer in 2009 about his own issue with drugs, told Caterer: "Without a doubt the most soul-searching interview of my life was conducted by Peter on the subject of drugs in the hospitality industry. It was a hugely personal event, between two recovering addicts, and one that I have reflected upon many times since. I am deeply saddened by his death and the difficult and troubled world of addiction has lost a man who committed his time to the helping of others."
Fellow Hospitality Action alcohol and drugs seminar presenter Ken Crosland said: "Peter was a remarkable man in so many ways. I met him early on in my own recovery and he helped me, personally, a great deal. I had a couple of fallings out along the way with him - as we did not always see eye to eye - but I do think that good friends sometimes fall out.
Similary, a statement released by the Sporting Chance Clinic, said, thanks to Kay, many sporting figures, current and retired, were in good recovery, enjoying fine careers and living life well. "Peter was my friend as well as a professional colleague and I am saddened by this news," said Tony Adams. "He played a major role in changing perceptions and lives along with helping the charity become what it is today."
Westminster Kingsway lecturer Gary Hunter: "Really hard to learn of Peter Kay's passing away yesterday. His work was crucial with Hospitality Action's Ark Foundation and he is an alumni @Westking who was due to give a talk to our students tomorrow. Please support his important work."
Hospitality Action: "Deeply saddened by Peter Kay's passing. An amazing presenter and so passionate in his work to help young people."
Philip Howard, the Square: "The world has lost a fine man. RIP Peter Kay."
Oakman Inns chairman Mike Smith: "So sad to hear that Peter Kay, consultant to HA's Ark Foundation, has died. He was a great guy who made a difference."
Footballer Joey Barton: "As tough a day as I've ever faced today. Lost a true friend. The world is a duller place for it. Gone but never forgotten RIP Peter Kay xx."
Footballer Clarke Carlisle: "Rest in peace Peter Kay. A man who changed many lives, including my own. I love you Chef. I miss you x."