TRIBUTES have been paid to former Cardiff City club chairman and Barry Island Resort owner Rick Wright, who died last week.

Mr Wright, who was 81, died in Brisbane on December 14 - some 12 days after suffering a stroke. He had moved to Australia shortly after the holiday camp closed in 1997.

Rick Wright bought the old Butlins holiday camp in 1986 and renamed it the Majestic, before it became known as the Barry Island Resort.

Former staff member Pat Wilkins, 72, who worked in the Personnel Department between 1986 and 1997, said she was ‘very sorry’ to hear about his death.

"He was a very good man," she said.

"He didn’t suffer fools gladly and was a larger than life character.

"I found him a very good boss. He was very fair if you did your job well.

"It was such an interesting place to work and I loved it," she added.

"I didn’t want to take days off as I was enjoying it so much. Once you went through those gates it was like a little village and it was wonderful.

"I often say if they rebuilt it now I would happily go through those gates and work there again."

She said Mr Wright was disappointed that he had been unable to modernise the holiday camp before it closed, with the land eventually being sold to the Vale Council, the holiday camp demolished and houses built on part of the land.

"He was a businessman with great ideas but they didn’t always come to fruition," added Pat.

"There was a lot of work involved to try and modernise it, but it didn’t all happen."

While he was Cardiff City chairman, between 1992 and 1995, the former Army combat and commercial diver - who left school aged 13 - lived in the Friars Point house on the Island.

"He used to joke that he lived in the best council house in Barry!" Pat added.

Born in Openshaw, Manchester, Mr Wright made his fortune initially in the hotel industry.

In his first season with Cardiff City, alongside manager Eddie May who died aged 68 earlier this year, the Bluebirds won the Welsh Cup with victory over Hednesford Town at the Arms Park.

He and May took the club into the old Division Two the following year after securing promotion as Division Three champions.

Pat, of Pontypridd Road, added: "When he bought Cardiff City that was very interesting as I used to write the wage cheques for the players. It was interesting how it all worked out."

A spokesman for Cardiff City FC said: "Everyone at Cardiff City is deeply saddened by the passing of our former Chairman Rick Wright and our thoughts are with his family.

"Rick was a forward-thinking Chairman who left a lasting legacy at the club. He strengthened the club's fan base during the early 90s and safeguarded the club's next generation of supporters, not least by launching the Junior Bluebirds Supporters Club. "During his time as Chairman, the club also flourished on the field, gaining promotion to the old Second Division under the management of the late Eddie May. Rick's support for the manager and all round vision brought players to the club during this period who supporters still talk about today."

Cardiff players wore black armbands during Saturday's fixture with Peterborough United, while fans paid tribute with a minute's applause ahead of kick-off.