Bristol

Bristol sailor and entrepreneur Tony Bullimore dies aged 79

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Media captionIn 1997, Tony Bullimore was rescued after four days under the hull of his capsized boat

Sailor and entrepreneur Tony Bullimore has died at the age of 79.

He became a global star in 1997 after surviving four days in the upturned hull of his boat which capsized during a solo round-the-world race.

Mr Bullimore moved to Bristol in the early 1960s and married Lalel, a West Indian immigrant with whom he opened the Bamboo Club, which hosted Bob Marley.

He had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

Image caption Tony Bullimore was also a renowned philanthropist

Mr Bullimore earned the nickname the British Bulldog after his dramatic rescue during the Vendée Globe.

His nephew Stephen Mulvaney said: "He was crazy, full of life, a character - he liked to get things done.

"I think he felt a bit sad that the rescue was what he was known for and yet over the years he has won so many trophies and won so many races."

Extraordinary survival feat

He was feared to have drowned after his boat, the Exide Challenger, capsized in the freezing waters of the Southern Ocean in 1997.

After four days it was spotted by an Australian navy ship and Mr Bullimore was rescued.

The Queen praised Mr Bullimore's "extraordinary feat of survival" and he was later introduced to Her Majesty.

The sailor famously crouched in the upturned hull of his yacht, surviving on chocolate and water.

Bristol's Lord Mayor Cleo Lake paid tribute to Mr Bullimore, whom she called "a Bristol legend both on the waters and on the music scene".

The Bamboo Club, which opened in 1966, attracted many of the big names in reggae and offered a place for people of all backgrounds to socialise safely.

It hosted stars including Bob Marley and the Wailers, as well as Ben E King, before it closed 11 years after opening because of a fire.

Roy Hackett, who was instrumental in the 1963 Bristol bus boycott, said that before the club opened: "You couldn't go into pubs in Bristol on your own if you were black. You'd get a hiding."

Image caption Tony Bullimore and his wife Lalel

Mr and Mrs Bullimore also experienced racism as a mixed race couple.

Mr Bullimore was a renowned philanthropist and in a 2016 documentary made by BBC Radio Bristol, one friend described him as "generous and humble, who helped thousands of black people".

In 2000 he starred in a BBC documentary with the comedian Sir Lenny Henry as they crossed the Atlantic Ocean.

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