The Hon Mark Vestey (pictured right), who has been president of the charity since 1991 has been described as ‘an inspirational leader’ whose loss is ‘immeasurable.’
In a tribute the charity said: “Through his personal commitment and incredible contribution Mark’s energy has enabled WheelPower to realise its dreams of providing world leading training and competition facilities for disabled men, women and children of all ages and abilities.
“When WheelPower wanted to put together an application to the National Lottery to redevelop the facilities at Stoke Mandeville Stadium – the national centre for disabled sport in the UK, Mark and his close friend Robin Courage helped raise the matched funds needed of over £5 million to enable the £10.2 million improvements to be opened in April 2003.
“Mark, together with his amazing wife Rosie and the whole Vestey family have been incredible supporters of WheelPower and organised many major fundraising events over the years raising more than £3 million to enable the charity to provide sporting opportunities for young and newly disabled people.
“Mark has been a very active president and figurehead for the charity and in addition to supporting many fundraising events he regularly attended board meetings and was deputy chairman for the fundraising committee offering sound guidance and governance, leadership and advice to colleagues and staff.”
Mr Vestey is credited with helping to redevelop the facilities at Stoke Mandeville Stadium to allow it to host the Paralympic flame-lighting ceremony and the lighting of the Paralympic torch in 2012 and heritage flame-lighting events in 2014 and 2016.
During his tenure, he also launched the Wheel Appeal, which has provided more than 500 sports wheelchairs to disabled people wanting to participate in sport.
Mr Vestey’s contribution to the charity was recognised in 2014 when he was inducted into the Stoke Mandeville Hall of Fame.