Tributes have been paid to Dr Nas Khan OBE – the motor dealership boss and devoted family man renowned for his commitment to the Teesside community.
Dr Khan, who died on Wednesday, aged 58, couldn’t speak English when he came to Britain from Pakistan as a 14-year-old.
Just eight years later, he was appointed as a sales executive at the Jennings Ford dealership in Yarm Road, Stockton.
And that was the start of an astonishing career which ultimately saw him establish the Jennings Motor Group as one of the UK car industry’s major players.
Resolution Media and Publishing non-executive director Bob Cuffe, former managing director of the Gazette, led the tributes.
“Teesside has lost one of its most respected business leaders with the untimely death of Nas Khan,” said Cuffe.
“Even more impressive than his business achievements – from his arrival at 14 in Teesside unable to speak a word of English, to buying the Jennings business and employing over 500 people – was his commitment to his community.
“Alongside his Emaan project, dedicated to rebuilding a village in Pakistan devastated by earthquakes and floods, Nas was continuously supporting many organisations, groups and causes across Teesside.
“Nas was awarded an OBE for his charitable work and he was just as delighted with his honorary doctorate at Teesside University.
“Nas was a very proud Teessider and was a complete advocate for the area he said had welcomed him and his family.
“Teesside was very proud of Nas and our thoughts and best wishes go to his wife, Naila, and his children, Sohail, Sairah, Natasha and Samah.”
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said: “Nas Khan was a fantastic man, a business giant and a true Teesside success story.
“He worked incredibly hard to build Jennings into a household name, and helped countless people across our region thanks to his commitment to our local charities. He will be sorely missed – rest in peace.”
James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East England Chamber of Commerce, said: “Nas Khan’s start in life would never have suggested the amazing contribution he has made to so many people’s lives.
“Arriving in a foreign country as a teenager, unable to speak the language and with no idea of what lay before him would challenge most people to their limits.
“Nas worked his way from inexperienced salesperson to run one of the most successful motor retailers in the region, employing so many people.
“Despite all his achievements he never lost his humility and his concern for his fellow human-being. Always a gentleman, he gained the mutual admiration of all who were privileged enough to know and work with him.
“We deserved all his success because it came through hard work and charm. We are the poorer for his loss.”
• Above picture courtesy of the Gazette.