Pembroke: Running a tour firm is no holiday

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The Independent Online
DAVID CROSSLAND, chairman of Airtours, the package holiday company, will soon be nearly pounds 3m richer when yet another dividend cheque touches down in his bank account. The payment on his 30 million shares adds to his burgeoning net worth, which now stands at more than pounds 140m, ranking him among Britain's 100 wealthiest people. Next to this, his pounds 290,000 salary is just pocket money.

You'd think this kind of money would encourage a bit of derring-do? But no. He lives in a modest abode near Manchester airport and, as his pallor reveals, doesn't take too many holidays.

His finance director, ski enthusiast Harry Coe, has a refreshingly different attitude. Though he has only 34,200 shares (so only a paltry pounds 3,000 for him yesterday) he does like a holiday. Stopped from taking his full quota on the slopes last season due to Airtours' abortive bid for Owners Abroad, he is planning a double whammy this winter: Meribel over the New Year followed by a fortnight in the Canadian Rockies in the spring.

THERE MUST have been a few worried faces at Brunswick, the City PR firm, yesterday. On a busy morning - the company was putting out the results of Airtours and National Home Loans - a gremlin caused a slight delay in transmitting some results to the Stock Exchange.

'It was only minimal and it's all over now,' grouched a spokesman.

SIR CHRISTOPHER HOGG, chairman of Courtaulds and Reuters, yesterday followed in the footsteps of Lord King, Garry Weston and Lord Hanson when he picked up the Hambro Businessman of the Year award at the Savoy in London. Mr Hogg, who wore a mid-blue shirt rather than one of his famed Victor Meldrew cardies, was praised for his strategic foresight and contributions to corporate governance.

Not one of the world's extroverts (though he has been stepping out with the more effervescent Dr Miriam Stoppard of late), he still delivered a speech considered more interesting than that of Michael Howard, the Home Secretary. After the salmon, noisette d'agneau and bread and butter pudding, Mr Howard blathered on about law and order and the Budget. 'I always forget that this kind of thing happens if you get someone just after the Budget,' Mr Hambro said.

Still, pounds 100,000 raised for the joint British cancer charities.

(Photograph omitted)

LEISURE ANALYSTS at Smith New Court seem to be hinting that incarceration is a profitable exercise in their latest research - as long as you decorate the cells nicely. Commenting on Vardon, owners of the London and York Dungeons visitor centres, the analysts write: 'Dungeons have traded strongly since refurbishment.'

THERE'S NO escaping the dreaded Mr Blobby. Number one in the singles chart, touted as a possible replacement for Graham Taylor ('Mr Blobby for England jobby', ran one headline) he is now going to save our heritage. The pink spherical guest on Noel Edmonds' House Party programme will be on hand to help the National Trust raise money via a walk through the Channel tunnel next February.

Too overweight to trudge the 31 miles himself, the fat pink one is going to stand at the end of the tunnel and greet walkers as they surface in Blighty. Is this really a reward for such efforts?

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