PAVILION Theatre owner George Martin has died after a long illness.

Mr Martin, 68, is survived by his two sons Nick and Tim.

The entrepreneur bought the Pavilion in 1986 from businessman Jimmy Glasgow.

However, he chose to be a sleeping partner in the theatre, with key decisions being made by manager Iain Gordon.

Mr Martin, who died in Ayr Hospital, focused much of his business time on the Fairfield House Hotel, in Ayr, into which he ploughed 'millions' in renovation work.

He was connected with the Pavilion in a business sense before buying the theatre.

Today Mr Gordon said: "We are very sad to hear of the death of George Martin.He was a good man and a good friend and I met with him just a couple of weeks ago.

"But the Pavilion will continue as it has always done.

"It is owned by a private company and the people who represent that company will continue to run things as has always been the case.

"George Martin always took a back seat when it came to day-to-day running of the theatre and as such there won't be any changes in the short term or the long term."

The arrangement with Mr Martin has been a successful one for more than two decades.

He chose to avoid the limelight and remain in the background.

Under Mr Gordon's control, the theatre has gone from being run-down and set to close in the late '70s to a hugely successful commercial enterprise.

Stars such as Robert Halpern, Peter Powers and, more recently, Brendan O'Carroll with his Mrs Brown shows have contributed to the success of the theatre.