Belfast Telegraph

Status Quo and Rory Bremner top the bill at Northern Ireland businessman's birthday bash

By Ivan Little

Legendary rockers Status Quo have flown in to Northern Ireland to play a surprise birthday gig for one of Northern Ireland's top businessmen and his daughter.

Impressionist and comedian Rory Bremner was also on the bill at the 'no expense spared' joint celebration for insurance magnate Leslie Hughes and his daughter Nicola Thompson at the luxury Culloden Hotel in Cultra.

The West End Jerseys, a tribute act to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, also entertained the 100-plus guests at the weekend.

Mr Hughes, who is the founder of the hugely successful Hughes Insurance Company, was toasting his 70th birthday while Nicola was celebrating her 40th.

Guests were treated to a champagne reception and dinner at the five star Culloden, and it is estimated that the cost of the party ran into six figures.

The star-studded entertainment was organised by a Belfast company Callow Events who brand themselves "dynamic and creative".

They regularly organise high-end functions, weddings and festivals.

In a tweet they said the Hughes party was "the best surprise our client could have wished for".

And they also posted a clip of the Quo's Francis Rossi and the other four members of the band playing their hit What You're Proposing as guests danced in the packed function room.

Rossi's fellow founder member of Status Quo, Rick Parfitt, died over a year ago but the band have now returned to playing gigs all around the world.

After the party, Nicola Thompson tweeted a message to the entertainers. It said: "Thank you so much to all of you. I had the most amazing night celebrating mine and my dad's birthday. It's a night I'll never forget."

On social media the West End Jerseys said: "After months of keeping it a secret it was our absolute pleasure to share a stage with the incredible Status Quo."

Rory Bremner said he too enjoyed the night and posted a picture of Francis Rossi on stage, calling his music "classic, raw and addictively entertaining".

Leslie Hughes was awarded an OBE for services to the insurance industry and to the Northern Ireland community in 2015.

Mr Hughes, who lives in Newtownards, was instrumental in changing the local insurance market at a time when many national brokers viewed Northern Ireland as 'no-go' area because of the Troubles.

He set up Hughes Insurance in 1977 and it grew into NI's largest independent broker.

The company was bought for tens of millions of pounds by Liberty Mutual Insurance in 2014.

One report said the deal was worth $73m.

Belfast Telegraph

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