Hilary Devey death: who was Dragons’ Den star, cause of death, net worth, and did she have a son?

Devey, who was CEO and Chairman of freight company Pall-Ex, died following a long illness

Former Dragons’ Den star Hilary Devey has passed away at age 65 following a “long illness”, according to her publicist.

Following the news of her death, her former Dragons’ Den co-stars paid tribute to the businesswoman.

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Duncan Bannatyne tweeted that Devey died “too young”, and Theo Paphitis also wrote: “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.”

Who was Hilary Devey?

Devey was an English businesswoman best known for her appearance on the BBC Two programme Dragons’ Den, as well as a number of other TV shows.

Devey was born Hilary Lorraine Brewster on 10 March 1957 and grew up in Lancashire. From the age of seven, she started helping out in the pubs and corner shop run by her parents and, at 16, she left school.

For a short while she served in the Women’s Royal Air Force before later moving to London where she worked in logistics.

Hilary Devey during filming of The Graham Norton Show (Photo: PA/Nick Ansell)

She founded the multimillion-pound freight distribution business Pall-Ex, after selling her home and car in the 1990s to finance it.

According to reports, Devey has an estimated net worth of $80 million.

In 2012, Devey published her autobiography, titled Bold as Brass: My Story, which charted her life from her humble beginnings as a Bolton girl remembering the bailiffs calling when her father’s central heating business went bankrupt, to the multimillionaire businesswoman she became with properties in Spain, Marrakech and Florida.

In a piece for the Guardian in 2013, Devey shared that her “earliest memory is of the bailiffs walking in and taking every stick of furniture we had”.

Hilary Devey receiving a CBE for Transport Industry and Charities at Windsor Castle (Photo: PA/Steve Parsons)

Outside of business, Devey campaigned for a number of charities, including Carers Trust, which she became Vice President of in 2012. She also supported the Stroke Association, which she became a patron of in 2010 after suffering from a stroke.

Of her stroke, Devey said: “Surviving a stroke three years ago didn’t teach me anything, but it did frighten me.

“I woke up in hospital with no sensation in my right arm and unable to even spell the word "the". My brain was properly jumbled.

“I was still trying to work three days after it, which was, in hindsight, ridiculous.”

In 2013, Devey was awarded a CBE for Transport Industry and Charities at Windsor Castle.

Does she have children?

Devey has one son, named Mevlit Brewster-Ahmet, whom she had with Hussein Ahmet, a man she met after she divorced from her first husband, Malcolm Sharples.

Of Mevlit’s father, Devey said: “He was charismatic and handsome. I was madly in love and we moved in together.”

It wasn’t until Mevlit was 18-months old that Devey discovered that her partner was already married with five children, prompting Devey to leave London with their son for Leicester.

Hilary Devey attending The Pride of Britain Awards, at Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London, 2016 (Photo: PA/Ian West)

Devey remarried again later, to Edwin Devey, who she later said only wanted a relationship with her for her money. Their marriage didn’t last long before the two divorced.

In a 2011 interview with the Daily Mail, Devey said: “I was rich and lonely, having not had time for a relationship since Hussein. It lasted only months and cost me a lot of money.”

Devey explained that her marriage coincided with her son getting involved with drugs at the age of 14, as he and her new husband did not get along.

Talking about Mevlit and his struggle with addiction, she said: “The hardest work I’ve ever done is pulling my son back from the grip of heroin. He was six weeks from dying when I found out about his drug-taking seven years ago.

“It has been an utter hell. For a long time I had to lock every door behind me. He would steal my clothes, food, electrical household items – anything he could sell for money to get a fix.

“He stole cash from my purse, took money out using my bank cards and pawned my jewellery.”

Hilary Devey arriving for The National Lottery Awards, 2011 (Photo: PA/Rebecca Naden)

She described a time where she “once had to drag him from a drug den in Derby after one of his friends told me he was there” and how he was later diagnosed with “obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder”.

In her 2013 Guardian interview, she briefly mentioned her son, where she said: “My son’s addiction to heroin taught me that nobody is perfect. It was a very dark time for us, like looking into the abyss.

“He’s been clean for seven years now and we are incredibly close – we speak twice a day every day.”

In an interview with Hello Magazine in 2013, Devey added: “I prioritised [work] at the time because it was my way of providing for my family. I have regrets about this, and some of its consequences.

“My son, Mevlit, has always said that there was nothing I could have done to have stopped him getting in with the wrong crows and becoming an addict, but it still troubles me. I am grateful that he is better.”

What TV shows was she on?

Devey appeared on a number of TV shows, including Secret Millionaire in 2008. In 2010, she also appeared as the presenter of The Business Inspector for Channel 5, a four part series which saw Devey use her business knowledge to help struggling small businesses turn into profitable ventures.

In February 2011, Devey joined the BBC Two show Dragons’ Den panel following the departure of James Caan. She appeared alongside fellow dragons Debroah Meaden, Theo Paphitis, Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne.

Hilary Devey appeared alongside Debroah Meaden, Theo Paphitis, Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne on Dragons’ Den (Photo: BBC)

The following year, in June 2012, she announced that she would be leaving the show, having signed a two year agreement with Channel 4. Later that year, she presented her last programme for BBC Two called Hilary Devey’s Women at the Top.

Having moved over to Channel 4, in April 2013 Devey started hosting her new series titled The Intern, which saw her give three young interns opportunities at their dream jobs for one week.

Hilary Devey appeared on a number of TV shows, including The Intern for Channel 4 (Photo: Channel 4)

The next year, Devey announced a new show that she would be presenting called Running the Shop which then started airing in June 2015.

Finally, Devey made her debut appearance as a guest panellist on the ITV show Loose Women on 18 June 2015. She became the occasional panellist in September that year but later left the show in November.

When did she die?

Devey passed away at age 65 on Saturday (11 June) in Morocco following a long illness, according to her publicist, Benjamin Webb.

At this current time, her cause of death is unknown.

Tributes for Hilary Devey

Following the news of her death, friends, fans and Devey’s fellow Dragons’ Den dragons have posted their tributes to the businesswoman on social media.