Dragons’ Den star Hilary Devey has died aged 65 after battling a ‘long illness’, her publicist confirmed today.
The Bolton-born multi-millionaire entrepreneur passed away at her holiday home in Morroco on Saturday night.
She joined BBC Two programme Dragons’ Den in 2011 and left in 2012, going on to present Channel 4’s The Intern.
She became a popular figure after demonstrating her matter-of-fact approach and was usually seen donning shoulder-padded businesswear.
In 2013 she was made a CBE, honoured for a career in business and for her charitable work.
She founded the multimillion-pound freight distribution business Pall-Ex, after selling her home and car in the 1990s to finance it.
Her charity work included her position as vice president of the Carers Trust and she was also a patron of the Stroke Association, having herself suffered a stroke in 2009. She also appeared in The Business Inspector on Channel 5.
Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis this afternoon paid tribute to the businesswoman tweeting: ‘So sad to hear of the passing of the lovely Hilary Devey. She left us all with some fantastic memories, may she rest in peace. My thoughts are with her family. x’
Fellow Dragon Duncan Bannatyne wrote on Twitter: ‘So sad to hear of the passing of the lovely Hilary Devey.
‘She left us all with some fantastic memories, may she rest in peace. My thoughts are with her family. x’
In 2014, Ms Devey revealed her ongoing health problems since suffering a stroke five years prior, which caused her to ‘lose a third of her brain’.
British businesswoman and star of Dragons’ Den Hilary Devey has died at the age of 65 after battling a ‘long illness’
Ms Devey, who was awarded a CBE in 2013 for services to the transport industry and charity, rose to fame on the BBC Two hit series Dragons’ Den (pictured second left with other dragons Duncan Bannatyne, Theo Paphitis, Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones) and became a popular figure after demonstrating her matter-of-fact approach
During an appearance on ITV’s This Morning, she said it took her six months to ‘come to terms with it’ and she had ‘no energy to do anything’.
She said: ‘There is so much now that I can’t do. I remember coming home from the hospital and getting into the bathroom – and I thought what do I do now, I didn’t even know to turn the shower on.
‘It has taken away a lot of my life – I can’t drive anymore because it has affected my vision, I have no sensation of touch, and I have a weak left leg… but I can still walk so I’m very grateful.’
It is not known if the health issues she encountered following her stroke in 2009 was a cause behind her death.
Her charity work included her position as vice president of the Carers Trust and she was also a patron of the Stroke Association.
Hilary, pictured on 3 October 2013 at Windsor Castle, was made a CBE for her services to the transport industry and charitable work
Hilary Devey’s palletised goods distribution network Pall-Ex was the third of its kind in the UK, initially pioneered by Palletline in 1992. Pictured before she was a dragon
Edwina Dunn, Hilary Devey and Vivienne Cox who were nominated for the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year Award, from Grosvenor Crescent, London, pictured on 3 April 2006
Describing being made a CBE for services to the transport industry and to charity, she said at the time: ‘In every sense of the word, this is a great honour and I am equally flattered and flabbergasted.
‘It is wonderful to receive such recognition, but this should be less about me, and more about the charities that I support and the amazing transport sector in which I am privileged to work.
‘So I dedicate my honour to the Carers Trust, the Stroke Association, and Fresh Start – New Beginnings, and the other charities that I have tried to support, as well as to the lorry drivers, forklift truck drivers and everyone else who works in the logistics sector: the unsung heroes of British industry.’
She has appeared on various other TV shows, including Secret Millionaire in 2008 when she donated £70,000 to Back Door Music Project and the Syke Community Centre in Rochdale.
The television personality reportedly has homes in London, Morocco, Spain, and Boca Raton in Florida. Pictured is the home she had in Marrakech, Morocco, where it is reported she died on Saturday
In 2011, Hilary Devey appeared on the Graham Norton Show when the presenter described her as the ‘most popular dragon’ on the hit BBC Two show.
The 65-year-old had an estimated net worth of over £80million, and made her fortune by launching palletised freight network Pall-Ex, having launched it in 1996. She sold her home and car earlier in the 1990s to finance it.
She joined Dragons’ Den in February 2011 following James Caan’s departure from the show. Devey left the series in June 2012 to move to Channel 4 to host The Intern, a business documentary where three young interns try a week in their dream jobs.
Devey later said her best investment had been a mattress-cross-duvet duvet for caravans, boats and trucks.
In 2015, she claimed the show paid its dragons ‘pittance’ of £1,250 a day and complained that it was not enough to cover her expenses while working on the programme.
Working out at £15,000 for 12 episodes, which took 14 to 15 hours a day to film, she said that the only way to make money was through the investment opportunities the show offered.
But despite her complaints, the entrepreneur admitted she would consider returning to the show if asked.
She said she hoped to extend her investment portfolio – but added it would depend on who the other dragons were.
She also had a stint at ITV News in 2015, when she joined the Loose Women panel as a guest four months until leaving that September.
Born in Bolton, the northern businesswoman previously lived near Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire but later relocated to Boylestone, Derbyshire. The television personality reportedly has homes in London, Morocco, Spain, and Boca Raton in Florida. Pictured left at the The Pride of Britain Awards, at Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London in 2016, and right, during her time in Dragons’ Den in 2012
Dragons’ Den stars Theo Paphitis and Duncan Bannatyne paid tribute to businesswoman and a former panellist on the show Hilary Devey, following her death aged 65
She also appeared in The Business Inspector on Channel 5.
Her palletised goods distribution network was the third of its kind in the UK, initially pioneered by Palletline in 1992.
Pall-Ex takes care of around 8,000 palletised shipments at its headquarters in Leicestershire each day, and makes deliveries to every UK postcode and 38 European countries daily.
The company’s estimated annual revenues rack up just under £60million, and a combined international network turnover of over £100million.
Born in Bolton, the northern businesswoman previously lived near Burton-upon-Trent at her Grade II listed home, Rangemore Hall, in Staffordshire, but later relocated to Boylestone, Derbyshire.
The television personality reportedly has homes in London, Morocco, Spain, and Boca Raton in Florida.
Hilary Devey is pictured with her only son, Mevlit Brewster-Ahmet, who is now 35, pictured in 2008 with his mother at their Grade II listed home, Rangemore Hall
A mansion she previously owned in Florida sold for £5.42million in 2014.
She has been married three times, to Ed Devey, Malcolm Sharples from 1976 to 1978 and Philip Childs from 2011 to 2013, and has one son, Mevlit Brewster-Ahmet, who is 35.
Mevlit’s father was Hilary’s long-term partner, a Turkish businessman called Hussein, who could not wed Devey as he was already married to another woman with five children.
This tale mirrored that of her mother’s – in October 2012, Devey shared a story on BBC Radio 4 where she explained that her mother discovered, years into her relationship with Hilary’s father, already had a wife and four children.
In 2014, she revealed her ongoing health problems since suffering a stroke five years prior, which caused her to ‘lose a third of her brain’. During an appearance on ITV’s This Morning, she said it took her six months to ‘come to terms with it’ and she had ‘no energy to do anything’. Pictured as a guest panelist on Loose Women in 2015)
In 2011, Hilary Devey appeared on the Graham Norton Show when the presenter described her as the ‘most popular dragon’ on the hit BBC Two show
In 2017, Devey gave up cigarettes after reportedly smoking ‘at least 20 a day for over 40 years’.
‘I’ve been hooked on cigarettes and ignoring the damage – even though I know the harm I’m doing,’ she said at the time.
‘I’ve found it extremely difficult to quit for good.’
She revealed her turbulent educational career to the Guardian in 2010, saying she went to 13 primary and secondary schools within her childhood, including Bolton Grammar. Devey was also fluent in Turkish.
Devey started working at 11 when she pulled pints in pubs and helped out at family businesses and did not go to university like her two brothers.
In 2009, she was the first woman to win the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport’s Sir Robert Lawrence award, and in July 2010, she was awarded the honorary doctorate of laws by the University of Leicester.