Dragons' Den star Hilary Devey dies aged 65

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Hilary Devey in 2016Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Fellow Dragons from the BBC show have paid tribute to Hilary Devey

Former Dragons' Den star Hilary Devey has died aged 65.

Devey, who grew up in Leeds, died after a long illness on Saturday night, her publicist Benjamin Webb said.

The Bolton-born entrepreneur, who founded the multimillion-pound freight distribution business Pall-Ex in the 1990s, died at her holiday home in Morocco.

Mr Webb said Devey was a "remarkable lady and an inspiration" who was "so proud" of her work on Dragons' Den.

Hannah Wyatt, managing director for Factual Entertainment and Events at BBC Studios, said: "Hilary Devey will always hold a unique place in the hearts of Dragons' Den viewers and the programme team.

"We are all extremely saddened by her loss and our thoughts at this time are with her family and friends."

She joined the popular BBC TV show in 2011 and left in 2012, going on to present Channel 4's The Intern.

In 2013 she was made a CBE for her career in business and her contribution to charity.

Devey's charitable 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.

From age seven, Devey started helping out in the pubs and corner shop run by her parents.

She left school at 16 and later moved to London. She started work as a sales clerk in the offices of a distribution company and worked her way up through the logistics industry.

Image caption,
Hilary Devey appeared on Dragons' Den with Duncan Bannatyne, Theo Paphitis, Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones

Devey came to public attention when she replaced James Caan on Dragons' Den, later saying her best investment had been a mattress-duvet for caravans, boats and trucks.

Businessman Duncan Bannatyne, who previously appeared on the show with Devey, tweeted: "Sad to hear that @HilaryDevey has passed. So young. Too young. Rest in Peace Hilary. X"

Another former co-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"

Media caption,

Fellow Dragon Theo Paphitis said Devey was a "straight-talking northern girl" who had "an amazing generosity of spirit"

Dragons' Den presenter Evan Davis said Devey would be "long remembered", tweeting: "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."

Kate Phillips, director of BBC Unscripted Content, said: "When Hilary entered the Den in 2011 she was formidable, fiery and completely unforgettable.

"A tough talking Dragon who never minced her words, she also always saw the person behind the product and was such an encouraging mentor and investor to so many entrepreneurs.

"A hugely successful businesswoman and television expert, she will be missed by all who knew her and benefited from her wise words and experience. "

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