TRIBUTES have been paid to Magna boss John Silker after he died suddenly while working at the science centre.
Dad-of-three Mr Silker (64) spent 37 years in the leisure and hospitality industry before joining the Templeborough attraction as chief executive in 2013.
He had previously been manager at Hellaby Hall Hotel for eight years and was a former vice-president of Rotherham’s chamber of commerce.
Fellow businessman Nick Cragg, an ex-chamber president, led the tributes this week. He said: “Rotherham has lost a true friend, as have I.
“John very quickly immersed himself in the business, charitable and civic life of Rotherham. He made a significant contribution to the Rotherham chamber of commerce, firstly as a members’ representative then as a director and finally as vice president.
“He worked tirelessly to ensure that Magna, one of the jewels in Rotherham’s crown, was preserved.
“He always held a positive countenance and a can-do mentality, even in the darkest hours.
“Along with his great sense of humour, he brought a lifetime of experience in events management and catering to the business.”
Mr Cragg added: “One of the most important things he did was to refresh the trustee board and leaves Magna in a far better position than he found it.”
Mr Silker, a former manager of the VIP suite at Old Trafford, was brought in at Magna to strengthen the corporate and events offer in order to fund improvements to exhibits at the former steelworks.
He said he wanted the centre to become the first choice venue for business events in Yorkshire.
Last year he said: “Magna was a bit of a sleeping giant. My team and I have worked hard to realise its potential and we now have more event bookings than ever.”
Magna announced plans for a £20 million global centre of excellence for glass production in May, when Mr Silker spoke of his excitement at the project.
Mr Silker, who lived at Aston and leaves three daughters, died on Sunday.
Magna trustee Brian Chapple said: “John worked tirelessly and with passion to realise Magna’s potential and drive it to be the best it can be.
“He was devoted to the venue and was a friend, as well as a colleague, to many.
“He will be greatly missed by all and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very sad time.
“The staff and trustees will continue the work that John started.”