Hotelplan UK chief Paul Carter has led tributes to "much-loved, admired and respected" product director Steph Pritchard, who has sadly passed away after an "intensive, short battle with cancer".
In a heartfelt message to Pritchard’s travel industry friends, colleagues and partners, Carter said Steph died peacefully on Sunday afternoon (9 August), "watched over" by her close friends Roger and Kerry, as well as her sister and close family.
"I’m so glad to have called her my friend and colleague during these past almost three years at Hotelplan," said Carter. "We are all devastated and heartbroken."
Carter said he saw Steph on a sunny Sunday six weeks ago, two days before her first course of chemotherapy. "She was upbeat then, and remained positive and determined throughout," he said.
"Only last week, for the very first time in her life, Steph had needed to stay in hospital. Something that was so typically Steph, she wanted to keep working."
Carter said Steph continued to join team calls and respond to messages until she was "tragically taken from us so young" when her condition quickly deteriorated on Friday (7 August).
Steph joined Hotelplan in January 2018 after what Carter described as a "stellar career" during which she worked for Citalia, Sovereign, First Choice ani Tui, among others.
"She was much-loved, admired and respected by her product and guest services team here," said Carter.
"She was an inspirational role model for so many aspiring leaders, especially women, and someone who had made a real difference.
"Always fun to be around; formidable to work alongside; a work ethic like none other; and a generous and demanding leader of people.
"According to one of her team, Steph had an amazingly positive attitude, and there was always a solution to whatever work or life threw at her. Steph worked hard and played hard to the end.
"It was Steph’s express wishes over the past few weeks that only a handful of people should know about her cancer diagnosis."
Carter added: "When the time is right, we will arrange a memorial service so we can raise a glass of G&T or champagne, honour her memory and celebrate a wonderful life, lived to the full.
"Steph, you will be sorely missed. May you rest in peace."
Dozens of former colleagues and friends have since paid tribute via a message shared by Carter on LinkedIn.
We would invite anyone wishing to pay tribute to Steph to leave a message in the comments below.