Bill Maxwell, travel industry veteran

Bill Maxwell
Bill Maxwell
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Bill Maxwell, who has died at 69, was a stalwart of the travel industry, who rose from the status of “ten pound Pom” to that of commercial director for the coach firm, Wallace Arnold.

Invited to Buckingham Palace, he recalled apologising to the Queen that one of the firm’s vehicles had blocked the entrance to Balmoral.

Born in Glasgow in 1948, he moved with his family to England at 13, and went to Manchester Grammar.

Despite a promising academic record he left at 16 to learn a trade, and trained in terrazzo and marble laying.

But at 20, he took the opportunity to emigrate to Australia on a subsidised £10 ticket. He took just £19 in savings and a suitcase of woolly jumpers.

He worked his way up the ranks of a warehouse company in Melbourne, and met his first wife, Ingrid, with whom he had two children, Roslyn and Haydn.

But after five years he was back in Britain, and he took his first steps into the travel industry as a clerk for the Scottish Bus Group.

Three years later, he became the hotel contract manager of more than 400 properties for National Holidays in the UK and Europe. A 20-year association with Wallace Arnold Holidays followed, ended only by the company’s sale in 2005.

His passion for travel saw him visit more than 70 countries, and he was a member of the first contingent of foreign travel trade representatives to enter China in the late 1970s.

A brief retirement following Wallace Arnold’s sale was over in three weeks, and he began working as a consultant to, amongst others, the Scottish government’s economy and tourism committee.

He was a visiting fellow to Leeds Metropolitan University and helped develop its first online tourism degree. The university gave him an honorary doctorate in 2010.

He was also a former board member of the UK Association of British Travel Agents and a director and treasurer of the Institute of Travel and Tourism.

Moving to Cleckheaton with his second wife, Eva, and their daughter, Amy, his charity work was the stuff of legend. He raised more than £20,000 for the Salvation Army alone, and when Eva fell ill, he arranged for a breast cancer machine to be gifted to both Leeds General Infirmary and the nearby St James’s Hospital.

He served for 17 years as a trustee of the ABTA Benevolent Lifeline Fund and was a former board member of Crimestoppers and a governor of Sports Aid UK.

Golf was his other passion, and never more so than at “Maxwell’s corner” at Cleckheaton Golf Club.

As befitting a travel professional, “he made you feel at home and welcome, as if he had known you for years,” said Noel Josephides, the chairman of ABTA. “A bit of a mischievous, knowing smile. Never arrogant, always measured.”