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Thorley Taverns founder Frank Thorley's death sparks touching tributes

The man behind one of Kent's biggest pub chains has been described as a "true gentleman" and "legend" following his death yesterday.

Frank Thorley, who founded Thorley Taverns in 1971 and oversaw its expansion across Thanet, died peacefully this evening.

The company, which runs 18 pubs across the Isle, shared news of his death aged 87 on its Facebook page on Thursday.

"With great sadness, we announce the loss of our founder Frank George Thorley who passed away peacefully this evening," the post read.

"His family greatly appreciate the kind wishes already being received and we know that our loyal local customers will all wish to pay their respects over the coming days.

"We are all deeply saddened at the loss of Frank this evening, but as he would have insisted, also remember the good times he shared with many friends and customers around Thanet, Kent & beyond."

Mr Thorley's daughter, Kim Thorley-Ransom, also posted on Facebook, writing: "It is with a very heavy heart that I am letting you know that my dad, Frank Thorley, passed away today.

"He was peaceful and in no pain and didn’t need pain relief.

Frank Thorley founded Thorley Taverns in 1971
Frank Thorley founded Thorley Taverns in 1971

"Myself, Matt, my sister Tracey, my mum and my brother Gary all spent the day with him today.

"I was extremely privileged to be with my dad, holding his hand cuddling him telling him how much I love him and he has always been the most important special man in my life."

Mr Thorley bought his first pub - The Angel in the City of London - in 1971.

He then quickly acquired four more in the capital before snapping up his first Thanet pub in 1975 - the Charles Dickens in Broadstairs.

His ventures into Kent were spurred on by his family's regular holidays to Thanet, and in 1977 saw him move to Broadstairs permanently.

In 2012 Thorley Taverns sold its last London pub to focus its energies on its Thanet portfolio, and to this day remains a family firm.

Frank Thorley and son Phil Thorley raise a glass to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Thorley Taverns in 2011
Frank Thorley and son Phil Thorley raise a glass to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Thorley Taverns in 2011

News of Mr Thorley's death has sparked a stream of tributes online, with many describing his passing as "the end of an era".

Former employee Gemma Taylor wrote: "Always a hands-on and visible boss, he made sure he knew every member of staff by name across all his venues.

"Huge respect and am sure he will be hugely missed across Kent."

Linda Lou posted: "Sad times. Another legend taken! R.I.P Frank, a true character & gentleman, thinking of his lovely family at this time."

Lisa Walden added: "Rest in peace Frank, you were the way forward. Your energy, ambition and loyalty to this area was unfounded. An inspiration to the entrepreneur of your generation. Thank you Sir."

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