Apprentice award to be named after 'inspirational' South Shields businessman Geoff Ford

South Shields business boss Geoff Ford, who died last week, is to have a prestigious award named in his honour.

Geoff Ford will have the North East Automotive Alliance's apprentice award named after him.
Geoff Ford will have the North East Automotive Alliance's apprentice award named after him.

Mr Ford, 75, was chairman of the Ford Engineering Group, which makes high precision components for the aerospace, automotive and other high-tech industries.

He died last week after a short illness, and was immediately hailed as a 'true ambassador for the region'.

Now, in recognition of his commitment to helping young people into a career in industry, the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) has announced it will dedicate its apprentice award to him.

The Geoff Ford Apprentice Award, sponsored by Gateshead College, will be presented at the NEAA Annual Awards on Friday, February 1, 2019, at the Roker Hotel, Sunderland.

Mr Ford, who lived in Durham with wife Marilyn, had been a part of the family business for 44 years.

His son Chris, who is managing director of the Ford Engineering Group, said: "The idea of naming the award after my dad is an absolute honour and one he would have undoubtedly been over the moon with - thank you."He always had such a passion in helping both young people and the business community - promoting apprenticeships through the Ford Academy as well as any other programme was central to this.

"He understood the criticality of skills in local engineering and worked tirelessly to provide solutions to the skills gap problem."He always enjoyed his time working with the team at NEAA and appreciated that their genuine desire and enthusiasm was a kin to his."

Related: Tributes paid to South Tyneside business boss Geoff FordPaul Butler, chief executive of the NEAA, said: “It was very sad to hear of Geoff’s passing. His tireless work has positively impacted the lives of many people, particularly the younger generation."Geoff has been a keen and active supporter of the NEAA since our launch, and led our apprenticeship working group.

"To name this award after him is to recognise the contribution Geoff made to society – he was and remains a true inspiration."

The NEAA Annual Awards, sponsored by MAKE it Sunderland, are designed to celebrate the outstanding achievements of companies and individuals within the North East automotive sector and help further raise its profile.

* Geoff Ford's funeral will be held at South Shields Crematorium at 11.15am on Monday, December 17.