Tom Bell and David Walker

According to Rupert Murdoch, Tom Bell OBE was ‘The Man Who Never Sleeps’. The world’s most powerful media mogul was in the midst of a battle to revolutionise Britain’s national newspaper industry, with a nigh on indefatigable 34-year old Tom, by his side, remembers David Walker, then head of communications at TNT Express Services.

It was the mid-1980s and the now infamous Wapping Dispute. Tom was masterminding an operation to help Murdoch’s News International Group get tens of millions of newspapers past thousands of militant pickets. He was surviving on as little as four-hours sleep each night, for weeks on end – hence the accolade from the Aussie press baron.

It was the beginning of the end of Fleet Street, but another chapter in the remarkable rise of a man born into poverty, but destined for the top.

As a child he would scavenge on bitterly cold, windswept beaches for sea coal, to stave off the worst of freezing Scottish winters.

Adversity only served to fuel his relentless determination to better himself. Hard work, talent and sheer bloody mindedness, saw him go from driving a lorry to clocking up millions upon millions of pounds in profits as a ground-breaking captain of industry at TNT – now FedEx.

His uncanny ability to make money changed the lives of tens of thousands of mentally, physically and socially disadvantaged children, exploits that earned him a date with HRH the Queen and an OBE.

Ruthless and compassionate in equal measure, a maverick who didn’t suffer fools gladly, Tom grabbed every opportunity that came his way. From a bleak tenement in Kirkcaldy, to a lifestyle mixing with royalty, sports celebrities and icons from films and music, his story was an inspirational tale of rags to riches.

For seven years he was my boss in the corporate world, before we later teamed up to write his autobiography, the appropriately titled ‘Man Who Never Sleeps’.

Capturing his life story was both a journey and a privilege, with plenty of laughs along the way, predominately about stuff that couldn’t be included in the book!

They say there’s only two certainties in life - death and taxes - but since first meeting Tom in 2003, there was an additional certainty. Whenever Spurs beat Manchester City I’d get either a text or call so he could rub salt into the wound. Oh how I hated those communications, but I’d happily take them in the future if it meant a change in the sad events of the last 24 hours.

Thirty six years on from making such a big impression on Rupert Murdoch, Tom is sleeping an eternal sleep, having finally lost his valiant and humbling fight with a formidable foe, that of throat cancer.

He will be so greatly missed as a cherished friend and as an inspiration and mentor to so many people.