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Remembering Derek Payne

Aug 04, 2016
Derek Donald Payne died on 18th May 2016, he was 82 years old. He was a surprising man in many ways. To those in the moving industry he could sometimes appear severe, but to his family, friends and close colleagues he was very different.

He joined Leicester police in the 1960s, where he met his wife, Jean, and worked as a motorcycle policemen.   It was in that capacity that he had the dubious honour of escorting the Great Train Robbers after their arrest in 1963.    

He joined the moving industry in 1966 working for Brewer & Turnbull and Whites Removals.  Most of his working life, however, was spent with Robinsons where he stared as a manager eventually becoming MD of the whole company, and Peter Robinson’s right-hand man. In 1978 Robinsons bought the Coxeter name in Abingdon which came with a couple of warehouses, on in a farm building and one in a brewery.  Derek took up residence and ran the company which gave Robinsons its base in the town. “Derek did virtually everything at that time,” said Peter Robinson. “He worked very hard, was loyal and absolutely determined to be successful.”  At acquisition the company had just six men; by 1987 there were 70 on the payroll and Coxeters had become the largest subsidiary of Robinsons.  

Those who didn’t know him well might have found him a little forbidding.  But he wasn’t really like that.  Dean Beaton, the current manager of the Abingdon branch said: “People who were on his journey got on brilliantly with him.  He was a real fair guy.”  

Peter Strange, Commercial Director at Robinsons agreed. “His man management style was very effective,” he said.  “I don’t think people realised how helpful he was to everyone. He was very giving.”  

Derek was the President of BAR in 1987 having been installed at the conference in Stratford-upon-Avon.  Rob Syers was the BAR general secretary at the time. “He was committed to the industry and a stickler for detail,” he said, “some might say pedantic.”  But that ability was put to good use for the benefit of the whole industry as Derek was involved with the development of ISO 12522 right from the beginning.  “He always wanted to do things right,” said Rob.  “He was held in very high respect and was rock solid, he never missed a Board meeting.”  

Tony Allen, who ran BAR Services at the time, considered Derek to be a good friend.  “My memories of Derek are many, but most of all I remember his down the line, no-nonsense view upon things, coupled with a sense of honour which is perhaps harder to find these days.” Tony said that Derek was never patronising, over-elaborate or guilty of unnecessary diplomacy. “I considered him a close friend, but he never let that get in the way when it came to doing business together!”  

After retiring from the day-to-day business Derek continued his connection with the industry with charitable work as chairman of the Removers Benevolent Fund (RBA) where he was renowned for absolute fairness.  He also continued his charitable work as a committed member of Rotary. He was an ardent Leicester City fan.  Although he lived to see his team win the Premiership his illness meant that he probably didn’t fully appreciate the enormity of the achievement.  

Derek’s funeral was well attended by representatives of the moving industry and BAR that he had served so well for so long. In her address, his daughter Debbie, painted a picture of Derek, the family man and father.  How he was always a little over protective; his love of making wine, much of which exploded from the demijohns; taking Jean bottles of wine disguised as cordial when she was in hospital – and getting told off by the nurses; cruises and caravanning in France; and even skinny dipping with Ron and Joan Waddling from Tippetts Removals in Canada.  A most surprising man indeed.  He was even once mistaken for Peter Sutcliffe, The Yorkshire Ripper, which gave him his favourite after-dinner story. A slight resemblance perhaps?  

Derek Payne was a member of a generation of people who gave their time freely to help shape the modern moving industry while maintaining successful businesses as well. The above photo was taken at one of the BAR Past President’s lunches in London which he thoroughly enjoyed attending.  It shows Derek with his ‘grumpy’ face, but those who really knew him could see through the somewhat forbidding exterior.    

Rest in peace Derek and on behalf of the whole moving industry: thank you. 

Photo: Top: Derek Payne at a BAR Past President’s Lunch and, middle left: in his time as BAR president.

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