Well-known award-winning former travel agent Harry Weeks has died aged 94.
Harry set up Harry Weeks Travel, which started out selling theatre and coach tickets, in New Kent Road in south London with his wife Winifred in 1954.
He has been remembered as a “fantastic, well-respected man” who developed an award-winning business, where staff were treated like family.
Sons Grahame and Colin both worked in the travel agency, which eventually moved to Orpington in Kent. Harry Weeks Travel and Leisure Group was sold to IT services company Capita in 2007 in a deal worth more than £30 million.
Grahame, 70, recalled: “In the very early days, dad used to repair shoes and mum ran a travel counter in the shop but over time the travel business got bigger until one day he said “that’s it” and he stopped repairing shoes out the back and became a travel agent full time.
“They were one of only 300 agents in the UK and he adored the job. He would go on holiday somewhere and the next year all his customers would go there!
“In the early days, everyone booked before Christmas and dad was one of the ones who persuaded tour operators not to give back all their allocations before Christmas because otherwise customers would have to wait for a cancellation if they wanted to go on holiday.”
Grahame recalled how his parents would go to the airport on a Saturday to make sure all their customers were checked in and departed without any hitches, and how he knew travel industry greats such as Freddie Laker and Harry Goodman personally.
The business, which won the London and south-east small agency regional award at the Agent Achievement Awards for around ten years running and scooped the national agent of the year award several times, went on to develop a successful holiday club business for employees of large organisations such as the NHS and ran business travel for various government departments. It also developed rail ticketing system Evolvi, with rail becoming a major part of the business.
“The business won many awards and he was respected as being very fair and reasonable and a good boss. He treated all his staff like members of the family,” added Grahame.
Harry was active until recently, spending his winters abroad in Tenerife, and died after a short battle with cancer. His wife Winifred died seven years ago. His funeral is on March 4 in Beckenham Crematorium.
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