Tributes Paid to Awards International Co-Founder Don Hales After He Passes Away

Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnFebruary 26, 20214min0

Awards International is saddened to announce that its co-founder and former chairman Don Hales has passed away.

A titan of the awards industry, Don passed away on Thursday from complications resulting from heart problems, leaving behind his beloved wife Marian, their three children, and eight grandchildren. He was 78 years old. 

Don has been a familiar face to many attending Awards International events since he joined CEO Neil Skehel in founding the company in 2008. 

At that stage, with a career in financial services under his belt, Don had already established himself as a leader in the awards industry, having founded the National Sales Awards in 2007, then the National Customer Service Awards after joining Quest Media. 

Having founded Awards International together with Neil, the pair introduced flagship global Awards International events including the UK Customer Experience Awards. 

One of the most important awards programmes they founded was the UK Business Awards, which have been known as ‘The Dons’ for many years, in honour of his passion for the industry.

 The 2021 edition of The Dons recently opened for entries, and this year’s event – the first without Don himself – is set to be an emotional one.

Outside of his long professional life, Don was a devoted family man who loved spending time with his grandchildren and enjoying a round or two of golf with friends. 

Londoner Don was also a vocal fan of Leyton Orient FC – and wasn’t afraid to let anyone know about it! 

Paying tribute to his colleague and co-founder, Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said: 

Our hearts are broken to be saying goodbye to our much-loved friend and colleague Don.  We had a lot of fun working together over the years and we were never short of innovative ideas with him around. He was an inspiring professional, a fantastic writer, and a wonderful person to spend time with.  

Anyone who knew Don knows what a friendly, positive person he was, with a keen eye for business and a love of awarding best practiceWe spent a lot of time together in the office, and on the golf course too, and I’ll have many, many great memories of him! He will be missed by all of us at Awards International, and we offer our deepest sympathies to Don’s loving family at this difficult time.

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Thomas Fairbairn

Thomas Fairbairn


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