London club owner Paul Wilde, the mastermind behind the most successful Pride events in the country, has died aged 51.
Paul died in his sleep and was found this morning in his flat above his venue South Central, in Vauxhall, London.
Paul ran Wilde Ones Event Services, which has been the production backbone of Brighton Pride for the last 7 years.
Paul was also heavily involved in Birmingham Pride and London Pride, as well as supporting some of the smaller events such as Reading.
“Paul was a larger than life character that everyone loved,” said Dean Parker his production manager at Wilde Ones Event Services.
“He is going to leave an enormous hole in all of our lives.”
Paul viewed Brighton Pride as his flagship event and he played a crucial role in shaping it into what it has come to be today – the most successful event of its kind in Europe.
For Paul, Brighton Pride wasn’t just business. It was his passion.
“Paul basically saved Brighton Pride in 2003 when we uncovered financial irregularities,” said David Harvey, Pride Chair from 2003 to 2006.
“He agreed to underwrite the whole event if we couldn’t recover from the financial problems. As well as this he the knew the event and what would make it work – he had that magic touch.”
He will be missed not only by the LGBT community but by many professionals in his field.
“He was a pleasure to work with because of his sheer professionalism,” said Chris Holme, Head of Brighton and Hove Council Events department, which helps run Brighton Pride.
“You could always trust Paul to do a good job. He had bags of personality and will be sadly missed.”
At the start of his career Paul worked as an agent on the cabaret circuit, managing Paul O’Grady, aka Lily Savage, and Julian Clary in the early stages of their career.
He also managed Jimmy Sommerville and was the UK agent for drag diva Divine.
Paul was a founding member of the Gay Business Association.
Three years ago Paul bought South Central with his friend Mark Oakley, turning it into a monster success with popular nights like Horse Meat.
Paul’s work managing acts led him to become more involved in different festivals, which in turn led to more and more event management work.
Over the course of his career he became highly respected in his field.
Recently he was appointed Vice President of the National Outdoor Events Association, an achievement of which he was most proud.