Although one of the few female leaders in a male-dominated industry, Devey dismissed “myths” that a glass ceiling barred women from board level. “I’m proof there’s no such thing,” she said in 2012.
Her appearance could border on pantomime villain – a sharp bob and power suits with Dynasty-style shoulder pads – but she was goodhumoured and had a soft heart.
In 2013 she presented Channel 4 show, The Intern, offering teenagers a work trial in their dream job.
Hilary Brewster was born and raised in Bolton, Lancashire to Arthur Brewster, who owned a central heating company, and Minnie Kay.
Her father was made bankrupt when she was seven.
“One of my first recollections was having the bailiffs come in and collect my mother’s furniture – the seats, sofas, cooker, beds – and her just sliding down the wall in floods of tears,” she said.
Forced into a nomadic life as her father started managing boozers, Devey grasped business basics fast. She could run her parents’ bar, cash up and stocktake by the age of 11.
When she was 12, she was raped near her parents’ boozer by a man who kept her hostage overnight.
She didn’t tell anyone for over 40 years until her 2012 autobiography Bold As Brass was published.
She left school at 16 for a stint in the Women’s Royal Air Force at Brize Norton before moving into logistics and working for TNT.
Devey was 18 when her father died of stomach cancer and she discovered he had a second family.
After her first marriage ended, Devey fell for businessman Hussain Ahmet and they had a son.
Sadly, like her mother before her, she learned he was already married with a family.
Between 2011 and 2013 she was married to entrepreneur Philip Childs.
In 1996 she spotted a gap in the palletised goods distribution market and started her company Pall-Ex.
After suffering a stroke in 2009, Devey became a patron of The Stroke Association.
She sold her business in 2019 to concentrate on charity work.
A multi-award winner, she was the first woman to receive the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport’s Sir Robert Lawrence Award for Lifetime Achievement.
She died following a long illness and is survived by her son, Mevlit.
- Hilary Devey Born March 10, 1957 – Died June 11, 2022, Aged 65