‘One of the most generous and genuine guys around’
FRIENDS and family are mourning the loss of one of the driving forces behind the Cooly Rocks On festival.
The festival's former general manager Phil Villiers, 64, passed away on Tuesday after losing a year-long battle with cancer.
Mr Villiers was well known in the Coolangatta and Tweed community, serving as CEO of Tweed Tourism and corporate sales manager of Twin Towns.
He worked closely with Cooly Rocks On and its predecessor Wintersun before stepping into the role of general manager for both the 2015 and 2016 festivals.
Division 14 councillor Gail O'Neill said she first met Mr Villiers in 2010 at the festival's first committee meeting, but had known of him for several years.
"From the moment I met Phil it was obvious to me that he really had a passion for the Coolangatta Tweed area and for music events," she said. "He was a real team player.
"Everybody says the same thing, but it's true, he was a true gentleman."
The pair bonded over their shared October 7 birthday, even calling each other "bro" and "sis", she said.
"Even though he was 6'5 and I'm 5' nothing," she joked.
"I really pushed for him to be general manager because he had the history of Wintersun, of Cooly Rocks On. He had that knowledge and he was a people's person.
"I saw him for the last time on Saturday and we said our goodbyes, but he's going to be missed by so many people. It's really hard because he was such a lovely guy."
Mr Villiers was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago and had been undergoing treatment.
The festival changed hands to Connecting Southern Gold Coast after Mr Villiers' final festival, but the organisation's current CEO Josh Martin said his influence was still keenly felt.
"Phil was really instrumental in the early years of the Cooly Rocks On festival, and a lot of his legacy has been helping the festival into what it is today," he said.
"He's really helped us create what we have. He was absolutely instrumental.
"He was one of the most generous and genuine guys around. His involvement across the event's industry and Coolangatta was amazing.
"He and my dad played footy together (at the Coolangatta Football Club) and he was just one of the nicest, most easygoing guys you could come across.
"Among his family and friends he'll be greatly missed."
Mr Villiers leaves behind three sisters, two brothers and two daughters, the youngest of whom is 16 years old.