Tributes have been paid to industry veteran Molly Bales as a “caring, charismatic and thoughtful” travel pioneer.
Molly, who ran tour operator Bales Worldwide after taking over from husband George, died in December at the age of 89.
Her funeral in Sutton, Surrey, was attended by members of the travel industry, including Abta chairman Noel Josephides, who was among those to pay tribute.
He said: “Whenever you met Molly she was always calm and measured and you sensed there was bags of experience, that she’d seen it all.
“Bales Worldwide represented something you rarely find in travel now: a sizeable company which was personally run. It’s a sign of the passing of the golden age of travel.”
Institute of Travel and Tourism president Trevor Harding, also non executive director of Hills Balfour, said: “She operated Bales Worldwide like a family.”
Keith Webber, director of management consultancy @werkk, remembers first meeting Molly when he worked at Pickfords Travel as marketing director from 1975 to 1985. He said: “Molly was a wonderful mentor. She will be remembered as a pioneer: she was always interested and very wise.”
Former Bales tour guides who attended the funeral recalled how Molly had changed their lives for the better.
Former tour guide Beryl Griffiths, who worked for Bales for more than 20 years and went on one of the company’s early tours to South America, said: “She gave opportunities for people like me to see the world. She was very thoughtful and caring.”
Former tour manager Anne Clarke, who spent more than 25 years at Bales Worldwide, added: “I never thought I would see the world. Molly became such a good friend.”
One of Molly’s seven children, Mandy, who described her mum as “the calm in the chaos” at the family home, ran the family business Bales Worldwide most recently before selling it to Virgin Holidays in 2009.
Bales Worldwide started as Bales Tours in 1962, carrying just 21 passengers in its first year. In 1965 it began offering tours to China and by 1970 it was offering round-the-world tours. It became known as a tailormade specialist for China, India, Egypt and Latin America.
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