Family tribute after Northern Ireland hotelier Sir William Hastings dies aged 89
Well-known Northern Ireland hotelier Sir William Hastings has died at the age of 89.
Sir William was a key figure in the region's hospitality and business sectors for six decades.
His family said he died peacefully at home after a short illness, surrounded by his wife of 57 years, Joy, and their children Julie, Howard, Allyson and Aileen.
They said they were "immensely proud of his outstanding accomplishments".
"We cannot describe the huge void that he has left in our lives but we take comfort in the fact that he was an inspiration to so many people and has left a lasting legacy which we will remain dedicated in honouring," a family statement said.
Sir William was credited with investing in the hotel industry in Northern Ireland through the dark days of the Troubles. He bought his first hotel, in Ballymena, in 1964.
He purchased the Europa Hotel in Belfast in 1993 and established its reputation as one of Northern Ireland's best- known venues.
He also owned the landmark Slieve Donard hotel at the foot of the Mourne mountains in Newcastle, Co Down.
Sir William, a keen golfer, received a knighthood in 2009 having already been awarded a CBE and an OBE.
The Hastings family statement said: "He took great pride in working together with us in the family business and until he took ill earlier this year, he still came into his office every day and continued to play a key role as chairman of Hastings Hotels.
"In 2015 Billy was immensely proud to announce the purchase of what is to be the seventh Hastings hotel and he was very much looking forward to seeing the rebirth of the Grand Central Hotel when it opens next year."