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Tributes have poured in following the death of Leicestershire haulage boss and Dragons’ Den star Hilary Devey, CBE.

The 65-year-old founder of haulage firm Pall-Ex, died last Saturday (June 11) at her holiday home in Morocco following a long illness.

Her death led to a series of tributes from fellow Dragons’ Den stars, including Theo Paphitis, who praised his late co-star’s ‘charisma’ and ‘amazing generosity of spirit’.

Picture: BBC

“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”, he added.

Deborah Meaden shared: “Very sad to learn that Hilary Devey has passed away at only 65. She was unique in every way and brought grit and warmth with her into the Den. My thoughts are with her family and loved ones. RIP Hilary. Truly one of a kind.”

Ms Devey made her fortune in freight haulage, launching her own company in 1996 and building it up into a highly successful firm which has its base in Ellistown, Leicestershire.

Pall-Ex was the third palletised goods distribution network to be launched in the UK. It handles around 8,000 palletised consignments through its hub each day and has over 90 network members. In 2021 it had a turnover of £92.1 million, compared with £76.6 million in 2020. In 2021 gross profits were £10.9.

“Hilary’s unique vision and determination were the driving force behind the early success of Pall-Ex”, said CEO Kevin Buchanan in a statement.

“With Hilary at the helm, Pall-Ex established the pallet network model in the UK and built a forward-thinking, international operation, establishing our position as the number one network for quality.

“While Hilary stepped away from the business in 2019 to pass ownership to Pall-Ex members and its senior management team, the drive and commitment she inspired in us all remain at the heart of our organisation.

“This is an incredibly sad day, but we are thankful to Hilary for allowing us all to be part of Pall-Ex Group’s successful journey, which we will continue in her memory.”

The hugely successful Bolton born businesswoman was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), in the 2013 Birthday Honours, for services to the transport industry and charity.

Other achievements include being awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration by the University of Bolton in 2012, for her services to business.

She appeared on the BBCs Dragon’s Den from February 11 to June 2012, before moving to Channel 4, where she began hosting a new series, The Intern, a business documentary in which Devey gave three young interns a week’s trial in the job of their dreams.