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Leading figure in the meetings industry
Geoffrey Gray-Forton, a leading figure in the meetings industry and a contributor to ABTN, has died aged 78.
He was founder in 1971 of the Association of Conferences and Events (ACE), now the largest membership organisation in the meetings industry in the UK and also founded Meetings World (1969) Associates.
Mr Gray-Forton was also a graded First Class football referee who officiated in top league matches and international games.
Mr Gray-Forton was born in 1930 and served in the Fleet Air Arm at various Royal Naval Air Stations after the second world war.
After his military service, he entered the nascent meetings industry and rose to become executive director of the International Congress and Convention Association and later vice president of the African Travel Association.
Mr Gray-Forton was interested both in training for the industry and also expanding it from the UK to other countries.
He was chairman of the Project Steering Committee for Development of the NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) for the UK and later worked with long time colleague Peter Worger on the Events Sector Industry Training Organisation (ESITO).
He was also active in promoting the industry abroad, especially in the Middle East where he organised events in Dubai and Iran.
Mr Worger, a former general manager of ACE and still a council member, knew Mr Gray-Forton for more than 30 years.
"He was very strong in developing the industry overseas. He was probably better known for his work overseas than in the UK.
"He was tremendous at getting people involved overseas and also in getting people from other countries involved in the industry in the UK. He was the first to do this."
His article for ABTN appeared in December 15 under the headline ‘Get rid of the rodent' in which he made a plea for a stop to the use of MICE as an acronym for the meetings industry.