The founder of Flame Heating Group John Savage made a surprise presentation to mark the retirement of the man who provided him with his first big break in the industry.

He gifted lifelong Celtic fan Danny Byrne with a special autographed print featuring some of the club’s greatest players during a charity race night organised by the Tyneside-based company.

Danny, who spent the last three years as Flame’s Development Director for Scotland, was responsible for successfully establishing three trade counters in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Ayr.

However, the two first met back in 1999 when Danny appointed John as manager of the Washington branch of the Wolseley-owned Parts Center, formerly Heating Replacement Parts & Control (HRPC).

Danny said: “I gave John his first senior managerial job, something he has obviously never forgotten – as I really didn’t expect him to mark my retirement with such a thoughtful and generous gift.

“He was always ambitious so it’s no surprise Flame has become such a success. In addition, he was always a very likeable person who is considerate to those around him.”

Scotland-based Danny, who became Wolseley’s Operations Director for UK North, later heard that John had been promoted to Business Development Manager at Plumbing Trade Supplies before leaving to found Flame in 2011.

Then, after 26 years with Wolseley, Danny accepted redundancy in 2016 and quickly received a phone call from John, followed by a visit to his home in Perth – where he was offered the job of establishing Flame in Scotland.

“When I took the role, Flame didn’t have any sites north of the border and I set about finding the premises and recruiting the staff to build a strong platform to create thriving businesses.

Danny started out in the industry in 1978 with Curzon, later Graham Heating Spares, before joining HRPC in 1990.

His first job was as a ‘parcel wrapper’, wrapping customers’ orders before taking them to the bus station for what was often a same-day delivery. His later roles included district and Scotland manager.

For Danny, who was taken to his first Celtic match aged three, the print holds a special significance – as it bears the signature of his all-time hero and Lisbon Lion Billy McNeill, who died in April this year.

He added: “My wife Caroline is a huge Rangers’ supporter but happily she’s relented and has allowed me to put it up in the house!”

John Savage said: “I was pleased to mark Danny’s retirement with something I knew he would treasure.

“It was he who gave me the chance to become a branch manager and gain the skills and knowledge I needed to eventually set up Flame. When I wanted to establish branches in Scotland, he was the ideal person to make it happen.

“I’d wish him a long and happy retirement and thank him for all he has done both for me personally and for Flame Heating Group.”

Flame, which earlier this year was named Scale-Up Business of the Year by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) at its national Celebrating Small Business Awards 2019, has achieved year-on-year, double-digit growth, and employs more than 60 staff. It currently operates eight trade counters and has launched its own bathroom range Azure, supported by three bathroom showrooms.