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Malcolm Halley: tribute to a friend - by Steve Jordan.

Nov 12, 2018
A tribute to Malcolm Halley who died on 8 August, 2018.

Malcolm Halley - tribute to a friend

The moving industry is widely celebrated as a people industry in which the participants become genuine friends whether they are colleagues, competitors or customers.  So, when one of ours is taken early, it hurts.

Malcolm Halley died on 8 August aged just 69.  Malc had been suffering from Leukaemia for the last two years and, whilst in remission, was enjoying one of his frequent holidays on his yacht in Turkey.  An unexpected phone call from the hospital called him back.  He was given only a few weeks to live. He died less than a month later.

Malcolm was chairman of John Bradshaw in Manchester, a company that can trace its history back to 1884. The company was successful, growing to include Britannia Bradshaw, Britannia Goodwins and BCL Moving Ltd.  His career spanned Pickfords, Corringhams in Grimsby, Bishops and Bowies before buying Bradshaws from Derek Blatchford in 1983.

The funeral took place at the Altringham Crematorium on 22 August, 2018.  It was standing room only.  Mike Andrews, who took over the company in 2012, read the eulogy at Malcolm’s request.  Knowing he was dying, Malcolm had contributed some of the text himself. This made the tribute warm yet laced with Malcolm’s own slightly irreverent humour.

Andy Dickerson, who spent many happy days taking part in extreme walking and cycling challenges for charity with Malcolm, reflected on those special times climbing and riding. “No matter how tough the climb, how miserable the weather, how long the road ahead, whenever Malc was around there was always fun to be had,” he said.  “A laugh, a knowing smile or a well-chosen expletive and a determination to finish whatever crazy challenge we had set ourselves.”  He recalled the final day of walking the 268-mile Pennine Way; 27 miles of mud and gales across some of the highest mountains in the England-Scotland borders. ”It was truly the worst conditions I have ever walked in. But it didn’t stop us singing out loud as we came off the Cheviot hills to complete the epic walk.”

Annie Neave, BAR’s first female president, knew Malcolm very well as a close friend to both herself and her late husband Rick. “Malcolm was the first person I met in BAR,” she said. “It was at an autumn conference and I loved him as soon as I met him. I couldn’t have wished for a better friend.  He would listen carefully, then make a really sensible suggestion that made you wonder why you hadn’t thought of that yourself. Despite his jokey manner, he was a very astute business man.”

Colin Chapman knew Malcolm for many years as a fellow member of Britannia. “He loved anything Indian, especially the food,” said Colin.  “This led in part to his buying his wonderful home in Goa. Malcolm, as generous and fun loving as he was, invited many friends to holiday there but would never accept any payment in return. His generosity went further when he provided the funds to enable his housekeeper there to buy their own home.”

Nigel Shaw said he first met Malc when he joined the CMG Council in 2004.  “We bonded straight away,” he said. “Malc was reserved and always tried to please everyone. We made a pact that Malcom, David Bunting and myself would meet once every two months for lunch.  It was called our CMoTY (Commercial Mover of the Year) sub-committee meeting.  This went on for 14 years. Malc was my mentor, me being the lad and David the wise old owl.  It was always a fight to stop Malc paying. I had many holidays with Malc and his wife Mel and we always kept in touch.”

David Bunting recalled those lunch meetings too and confirmed that he and Malc were good friends going back to 1989 when the North West Area could expect 50 people to attend and the annual dinner dance catered for 120 people. “He was a lovely chap all round, and great company. He regarded himself as a missionary in the North West (a Londoner by birth) and was a Spurs supporter (in absentia!).”

Paul Evans said that he had known Malcolm for decades and called him a stalwart of the industry and a great friend to many. “I never saw him in a bad mood or lose his temper and in fact, I’ve never heard anyone say a bad word about him,” said Paul. “He always had a smile on his face and was always willing to help if he could. He was a great friend, great company and will be sadly missed by many.”

Mal Fleet said: “You can count really good friends on one hand; Mal was in that category for me. He was so generous, especially with his time, and would rather give than receive.  Mal and Mel would often invite us sailing around Europe with me on cleaning and toilet unblocking duties.  He would tell me that I would make a good sailor one day by carrying out these on-board chores. The man had a wicked sense of humour and an extremely good knowledge of sport, music and art.  He taught me how to treat people. He was always fair yet firm and never judged people (unless they crossed him!).”

Steve Barker said Malcolm was one of those amazing, natural people who could make you feel happy with life by just being with him. He made you feel special and had a great sense of humour.  “The funniest thing he ever told me was his flying test episode,” said Steve. “On the approach to the airport the instructor cut the engines of the plane just as he was approaching some power cables. There was a choice to be made, over or under? The instructor asked Malc where he wanted to go, Malc being Malc said: “To the toilet.” Malc said he failed the test and decided flying wasn’t for him.”

In writing this tribute it was difficult not to repeat myself.  Everyone I called said the same things about Malcolm Halley and I could have made 100 calls and got the same response.  Maybe I should close in exactly the way Mike Andrews did at the funeral.  “He always left everyone better than he found them.”  Thanks Malc.

The many faces of Malcolm Halley: the charity walker and cyclist, father, socialiser and sailor.

A tribute to Malcolm Halley

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