Farewell to Tri-Star boss

Eric O'Brien SUS-150317-104917001
Eric O'Brien SUS-150317-104917001

A businessmen who once employed almost 300 people in the town has died.

Eric O’Brien ran Tristar Cars after moving to Ifield in 1973 and, by the time he retired, had 400 vehicles on the road.

The company operated out of Spindle Way, Three Bridges, before moving to an office at Crawley Town’s old ground, Town Mead, where Eric took on the role of club sponsor.

A lover of sport, he also sponsored boxing matches at the old leisure centre, in Haslett Avenue.

Tristar later moved to the Beehive, at Gatwick, which was fitting given the amount of work the airport was providing.

Eric’s son, Kevin, spoke with pride of one of the contracts acquired by his father – providing the first door-to-door service for first class passengers with Laker Airways, at Gatwick.

He said: “Laker was dad’s first really big airline contract.”

The success didn’t end there and Eric soon picked up similar contracts with Virgin as well as taking on the responsibility of transferring air crew between Gatwick and Heathrow.

Eric died on March 9, aged 79. Kevin said: “He was a good man. A whole-hearted, solid, hard-working bloke with great values. He had nearly 20 years of retirement and he enjoyed it. He employed a lot of Crawley people and I couldn’t walk down the High Street without seeing some one who knew him.”