Tributes to Wakefield charity fundraiser and businessman Brian Hazell

Charity fundraiser, successful local businessman and devoted family man Brian Hazell MBE, died on Saturday aged 87, of coronavirus.

Tuesday, 19th January 2021, 6:14 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 9:48 am
Brian Hazell and brother Norman

Brian founded the humanitarian charity the Suzy Fund 45 years ago. It is devoted to helping the starving in the Third World and recently topped the £1m mark: Brian continued to raise funds up until his death, involving his children and grandchildren in his endeavours.

Over the years he received several honours for his charity work. He was awarded the Benemerenti medal from the Pope in 1987 and an MBE in the 2011 New Year’s honours. But despite this, he was always keen to stress that it was the fund’s work that was being honoured and that he was just the man at the front. He was a blood donor who received an award for donating 100 pints of blood.

His daughter Clare said: “Dad touched the hearts of everyone who met him but he held the hearts of his children and grandchildren.”

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Brian Hazell receives the MBE

Brian was born on September 28, 1933 in Selby St, Wakefield, one of six children, and the second son of Norman and Mary Hazell.

He was educated at St Austin’s and QEGS before completing an electrical apprenticeship at Spencer Wire Company in Thornes followed by two years of national service in the RAF.

On demob, he went to Campion House Theological College in London then taught for a time at Cathedral School.

He met and married Lily Fisher of Normanton in 1960 after a whirlwind romance. Lily, who was always known as Lynne, was the undisputed love of his life, and the couple went on to have six children Dominic, Clare, Benedict, Daniel, Nicholas and Christian. Lynne died in 2017 after 58 years of marriage.

In 1968 the family moved to Driffield where Brian worked for Marley Roofing. Five years later they returned to Wakefield and Brian went into partnership with Bob Ashby of The Ashby Roofing Company (later Ashtree).

Brian never retired from the business, working daily until coronavirus forced him to be furloughed.

For a number of years Brian pursued a career in local politics, along with elder brother Norman, who was the city’s first ever Conservative mayor.

Brian’s ability was rapidly recognised and for a time he was deputy leader of the Conservative Group on Wakefield Council, deputy chairman of West Yorkshire Fire Authority and had a place on National Fire in London.

He was also the first Conservative to hold a place on the council's cabinet.

Coun Nadeem Ahmed, current leader of Wakefield's Conservative group, said: "Brian was a very, very good person.

"I always thought he was tough and a strong character. He was respected across West Yorkshire and a very well known figure.”

Brian’s other love was sport. He was capped at cricket for Wakefield Boys and was a goalie for St Austins football team. Along with his brother Norman he cycled around Belgium, France, Holland, Germany and Ireland. While in Germany the brothers knocked on the door of goalkeeper Hans Tilkowski, who was the keeper in the 1966 World Cup final against England. Upon learning that Brian was a goalkeeper too he invited them in for a kick about in his garden.

Norman said: “Brian was not only my brother but he was also my very best friend. Wehave been inseparable all our lives and I am devastated by his death

Brian was a devout Catholic and never missed a Sunday Mass. He leaves behind his five siblings, six children, 11 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Details of the funeral are yet to be announced