Dragons' Den star Hilary Devey dies aged 65 in Morocco after long illness

12 June 2022, 14:36 | Updated: 12 June 2022, 18:42

Hilary Devey has died aged 65
Hilary Devey has died aged 65. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Former Dragons' Den star Hilary Devey has died aged 65 after a long illness.

The entrepreneur died in her holiday home in Morocco on Saturday night.

A spokesperson said: "I can confirm that Hilary sadly died yesterday.

"She had been ill for some time."

Ms Devey became familiar to audiences of the BBC show, which sees entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of successful businessmen and businesswomen.

Anyone they can convince to join with them takes a stake in their venture in exchange for a sizeable investment.

She appeared on Dragons' Den alongside fellow investors Peter Jones, Theo Paphitis, Duncan Bannatyne and Deborah Meaden in 2011 but left in 2012, before presenting The Intern on Channel 4.

The 65-year-old had an estimated net worth of over £80million.

Dragons' Den star Theo Paphitis tweeted: "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"

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Whilst Duncan Bannatyne wrote: "Sad to hear that Hilary Devey has passed. So young. Too young. Rest in Peace Hilary. X."

Dragons' Den presenter Evan Davis has said Hilary Devey will be "long remembered".

Davis tweeted: "So sorry to hear of Hilary Devey's passing.

"I didn't know her well, but she really brought a wonderful grit to the Den; it was quite different to anything we'd encountered and audiences loved it.

"She'll be long remembered."

Ms Devey was CEO and chairman of Pall-Ex, a palletised freight distribution firm.

"Hilary is an inspirational role model for entrepreneurs," her website said.

"Having started from nothing, she has grown the company into an international network with a combined turnover of over £100m."

Hilary has been married twice, to Malcolm Sharples from 1976 to 1978 and Philip Childs from 2011 to 2013, and has left behind one son, Mevlit Brewster-Ahmet, who is 35.

In 2013, she was honoured for her business career and charity work by being made a CBE.

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.

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"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."

The Dragon also featured on the Secret Millionaire in 2008 where she donated more than £70,000 to the Back Door Music Project and the Syke Community Centre in Rochdale.

Hilary, who is known for her infamous shoulder-padded business wear revealed in 2014, that she was suffering from health problems since suffering a stroke five years prior, which caused her to 'lose a third of her brain'.

Speaking in 2013 Hilary said: "I'm not anxious about my health now. We're here for a given period of time and Him upstairs will decide when he wants us."

Adding: "I don't like getting old, but that's life. I have Botox. I'd have a facelift if I knew the results would be good, but I don't want to look like a freak."

Devey was born in Bolton, and from the age of seven started helping out in the pubs and corner shop run by her parents.

She left school at 16 and later moved to London for work, where she worked in logistics for companies include TNT.

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."