The Bucks-born former director of Beaconsfield's prestigious National Film and Television School has died.

Nik Powell, who was born in Great Kingshill and went on to co-found Virgin Records with Richard Branson, passed away on Thursday, November 7. He was 69.

The businessman had been receiving treatment for cancer and died surrounded by his family in Oxford.

Nik was director of the NFTS in Station Road, Beaconsfield, from 2003 until he stepped down from the role in 2017.

He had a distinguished career in the media industry - firstly in music as co-founder of Virgin Records and subsequently as a producer of several award-winning films.

In 1982 Nik went into partnership with Stephen Woolley, having sold out from Virgin in the previous year. Together they formed Palace Pictures, where UK releases included The Evil Dead, Diva and Blood Simple, and then Palace Productions.

Nik acted as executive producer on all of Palace’s productions including Neil Jordan’s Company of Wolves, Academy Award-nominated Mona Lisa, Michael Caton-Jones’ Scandal and Neil Jordan’s multi-Academy Award nominated The Crying Game.

With his company Scala Productions, he produced Fever Pitch and Twenty Four Seven in 1997, B. Monkey in 1998, Last Orders in 2001 and Ladies in Lavender in 2004.

Nik also executive produced box office smash Calendar Girls starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters as well as Martin Koolhoven’s Brimstone, with Guy Pearce, Dakota Fanning and Kit Harington which premiered in September 2016 at the Venice Film Festival before screening in Toronto and London.

A former chair of the European Film Academy, the BAFTA Film Committee and Chevalier dans l’ordre des arts et Lettres, Nik was named an OBE in the 2018 Honours List.

Under his leadership, he oversaw a transformation of the NFTS - helping it gain recognition as one of the best film schools in the world.

In an emotional tribute, NFTS director Jon Wardle said he would miss his friend "hugely".

He said: "I spent five incredibly happy years working with Nik as his deputy. He was a good friend and I will miss him hugely.

"He told me recently how his work to support and develop NFTS students to reach their full potential was probably the professional achievement he was most proud of.

"The culmination of his work at the school was recognised in 2018 when together we collected the BAFTA for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema award.

"Nik leaves an unrivalled legacy and no one has done more than him to set the bar high. We will continue to strive for the future success of the school in his honour.”

In a bid to recognise his "enormous" contribution, the film school has launched the Nik Powell scholarship, which will support emerging producers in the early stages of their career to attend the NFTS.

In addition to the financial support the scholarship will provide, each recipient will also be matched with an industry leader who will provide ongoing support and mentoring and share an insight into Nik’s own particular approach to producing.

The school hopes to offer the scholarship annually - and has launched a fundraising page for £100,000 to get the project going.

Nik's partner of 20 years, Sarah Cellan-Jones, will help select the recipients of the scholarship.

So far, more than £3,800 has been raised in his memory.

To donate, go to and to learn more about the scholarship, go to