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dragon’s lair


A younger blonder Hilary


Hilary Devey holding one week old Mevlit in December 1986 Aged 6, just before her dad went bankrupt


were like me where you’d starve and you’d have to go back to work - she wants to stay with that child. Women should just accept it and get on with it.





five years. The implant has also been removed. “He’s trying hard and is getting his life back on track. He’s working, doing carpentry, and it’s right and proper that he should be doing it,” she says. “I worry about him morning, noon and night. My biggest worry is, God forbid anything happens to me, would he ever be that grief- stricken that he’d go back to it? Undoubtedly, I am his rock.”


Does she ever wish she’d taken more time out from her career to be with her son? “I’ve talked about this with Mev. If I wasn’t with him his grandparents were with him and he was thoroughly spoiled. But he always craved my time and that was the one thing I couldn’t give him in abundance. Of course I feel guilty about that.”


But then Devey has been working since the age of seven, when she’d help in the corner shop her father bought and then latterly at the various pubs her parents ran. She moved to London to work for a company that transported hanging garments and in 1996 launched her freight distribution company Pall-Ex. She’s now reportedly worth an estimated £100 million, although she says she’s never been motivated by money. Since appearing on Dragons’ Den, rumours of plastic surgery and other cosmetic enhancements have abounded, but Devey sets the record straight in the book.


Having suffered from alopecia in the late 1990s, she admits she still has hair weaved into her own because some patches have never recovered. As for plastic surgery, she says: “Let me say now that I haven’t had a facelift or cheek implant. I’ve had a bit of Botox in my forehead, some collagen in my lips, which to be honest I thought was a waste of time, and then a tummy tuck.”


A near-fatal stroke in 2009 followed by seizures and a cardiac arrest left her left side paralysed and, to make matters worse, the tummy tuck, which was still healing, became infected. For now, she says, she’s finished with cosmetic surgery. “I’ll be honest with


you, if I could have a facelift tomorrow I would, but I wouldn’t find a surgeon in the country prepared to do it because of the stroke. And I wouldn’t jeopardise my health now.”


The stroke has left her with no feeling in her left arm. She can’t drive or do her hair, and because her left side is so weak it has affected her balance. But there’s no self-pity. “I’m patron of the Stroke Association and, believe me, there are millions of people in this country today who are in a far worse situation than I could ever be.”


She says she’d like more ‘me’ time but her schedule is packed. She’s currently filming a BBC series in which she meets female politicians, as well as running Pall-Ex.


Despite her business success, she remains adamant that women cannot have it all. “Most women I know want a child, even those I know who are in gay relationships. It’s in our genetic make-up. Immediately that woman goes off to have her child - unless you were like me where you’d starve and you’d have to go back to work - she wants to stay with that child. Women should just accept it and get on with it. I truly believe that if a woman wants to make it, in whatever industry you go into, you are up against chauvinism and misogynism - and it’s down to you. Just shake your shoulders, laugh it off and get on with it.”


Bold As Brass: My Story by Hilary Devey. Published by Macmillan, £16.99


www.lifebeginsmagazine.com Life Begins 5


Most women I know want a child, even those I know who are in gay relationships. It’s in our genetic make-up. Immediately that woman goes off to have her child - unless you





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PA Photo/Macmillan


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