AN ENTREPRENEUR who owned a pub chain, wrote quizzes and had many books published has died aged 93.
Tom Porter had lived in Burley where he was also a school governor, but had spent his most recent years residing in Worcestershire to be near his brother.
He was described by his family as “a huge character; always interested in everything around him” with an engaging personality and dearly admired and loved by all who knew him.
Tom served in the Royal Navy with HRH Prince Phillip after attending the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. Later he moved into the hospitality industry and was given an executive role with the Brickwood and Whitbread breweries in the 1960s and 70s.
He went on to develop his own range of highly successful restaurant pubs, spearheading the principle of children being allowed in to pubs with their families in designated areas.
His first pub, The Bakers Arms at Lytchett Minster in Dorset, went on to be awarded the accolade of ‘pub of the year’.
Tom developed his own chain of public houses in the south and south west, including The Happy Cheese at Ashurst, and during these years he worked extensively with friend Sharon Burns to create pub quizzes.
Known as Burns & Porter, they started with just 32 pub teams but soon became the market leaders in their field, producing quizzes for up to 10,000 teams per week across the country and writing questions for many television quiz shows, as well as publishing pub quiz books. He also developed a karaoke franchise.
Tom – who often had a dozen new ideas each day – also wrote many books including Do It Yourself Divorce and How to Build Your Own Computer.
After his role as a school governor he continued his interest in education and went on to produce a reference library of each of the subjects within the curriculum, with the ultimate aim of assisting parents who wanted to home educate their children to a high standard.
When he was in his 60s Tom gained his helicopter pilot licence and purchased his own aircraft, a Robinson R22. His flying instructor Harry Knapp, who was based at Bournemouth Airport, would often describe the challenge to train Tom as “a unique experience”. Tom also encouraged his daughter, Joanna, to gain her pilot licence.
After the sudden death of his wife of 63 years, Pip, in 2013, Tom’s health also began to deteriorate. He took up canal boating and eventually moved to live near his brother in Worcestershire.