THERE are numerous people you might approach for advice on how to advance your business career: a Dragon out of the Den, Branson of Necker Island or maybe the one who has recently bought into Manchester United FC. But Basil Fawlty?

Yet the hilariously harum-scarum hotel proprietor in the TV sit-com Fawlty Towers – or rather his alter ego actor John Cleese – was the man who proved a pillar of wisdom for Adrian Ward when he was setting out. Not in person it must be stressed, but via a series of business advice training videos that Cleese produced and acted in.

During his early days as a corporate events organiser one of the staples Adrian found himself presenting were the John Cleese videos on how to become a businessman. “I showed them so many times I almost knew them off by heart, he said. “As training videos, they were invaluable in showing how to interact with staff and customers, how to conduct yourself and how to create a good environment in your company. The complete opposite of his character in Fawlty Towers.

“They were simple messages and, in many ways, obvious, but covered areas that are sometimes neglected in the drive to push a business forward. I must have shown those videos hundreds of times all over the country. They were played on an old style 26inch cathode ray tube TV’s and projectors I lugged into many different venues, so it’s hard to forget those days.”

Now with his 65th birthday approaching and a few health scares behind him, Adrian is retiring from his business AWard Event Services, based in Malvern and Worcester, to enjoy life a bit more. It has been a career that’s seen him support the staging of more than 5,000 events to well over a half of a million people all over the UK and overseas. As he put it “from Aberdeen to Cornwall, Essex to Wales.” Many of them for the regional press, including Newsquest.

But his life didn’t start out that way. The family moved to Malvern in 1959 via his father’s job at the then named RRE (Royal Radar Establishment) and there followed school at Hillside Prep and Ledbury Grammar before young Adrian left in the fifth form to join the army.

First it was a Junior Leaders’ Royal Armoured Corps Regiment and then the Queen’s Own Hussars, operating in Chieftain Tanks.

In three and a half years with the QOH, Adrian did two tours of Northern Ireland at the height of The Troubles, plus spells in Berlin and Bavaria, the latter seeing plenty of skiing. But seeking even more adventure, he left the army and decided to backpack the west coast of Australia. It was a self-reliance that has been a hallmark ever since, for Adrian has long been connected with the Scout movement and is currently District Explorer Scout Commissioner for The Malvern District. “Scouting builds confidence, teaches people how to work as a team and gives you skills for life,” he added.

Returning to the UK a job was needed and he happened on the audio visual and events world, “which I found quite interesting”. So in 1980 he joined Istead Audio Visual in Worcester in the hire division, responsible for delivering and setting up hired equipment such as overhead projectors, screens, lighting and audio at hotels and other venues all over the Midlands. Eventually Adrian became manager of Istead’s Birmingham branch and then one of the company directors. During his time with Istead he began working with clients like Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Maserati on glamorous car launches and other motoring world events.

But in 1985 he organised an event at the Albany Hotel, Birmingham which was to prove seminal. It was one of the annual conferences for the Newspaper Society which went down so well he was asked to do more and so began Adrian Ward’s near 40-year association with the regional press.

He set up his own company and continued to work with regional press, in particular the owners of the Birmingham Post and Mail and when they went public, he promptly helped stage 30 regional launch events. After running this for eight years he joined Northcliffe Newspapers, setting up an internal events support department in 1997. This allowed him to return to his hometown of Malvern where he also settled down to family life with his Austrian wife Doris, and then his son Gregory and daughter Hannah. In the following 20 years Adrian and his team were staging around 150 events a year, including awards dinners, fashion shows, product launches and management conferences. Celebrities attending varied from Princess Margaret and Margaret Thatcher to TV stars like Jeremmy Vine, “one of the most interesting people I have met”.

In more recent years, Adrian has worked closely with Newsquest and the Worcester News, especially on the Worcestershire Education Awards, Unsung Heroes and community events, among many others.

Dale Godliman, Newsquest sales director, said: “It has been a genuine pleasure to have the good fortune of working with Adrian over the past five years. His experience in delivering best in class live events is unrivalled and we’ve been very lucky to have benefitted from his wisdom and expertise in the time that we have worked together. Not only is he very good at what he does, he’s also a great human being. On more than one occasion, he has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help out individuals in their hour of need. We will very much miss working with him.”

But now retirement beckons and more walks on the Malvern Hills with his faithful collie Levi. No more will Adrian Ward, ace event stager, have nightmares about someone rushing into a crowded room firing a cap gun into the air, like the over-enthusiastic presenter at an early Newspaper Society Wild West themed conference. Cue everyone dropped to the floor. “These days the police would be called,” he said. Different times. Although typical Basil Fawlty.