Obituary: Brian Hazell, fundraiser

Brian Hazell, who has died at 87, was a Wakefield businessman who founded the Suzy Fund humanitarian charity 45 years ago, after seeing a child starving in Ethiopia.

Brian Hazell

Brian Hazell, who has died at 87, was a Wakefield businessman who founded the Suzy Fund humanitarian charity 45 years ago, after seeing a child starving in Ethiopia.

The organisation raised more than £1m, with Mr Hazell continuing his efforts until his death, involving his children and grandchildren in his endeavours.

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His charity work earned him the Benemerenti medal for services to the Catholic Church from the Pope in 1987 and an MBE in the 2011 New Year’s honours. But he always insisted that the honours were for the fund’s work, not for him.

Born on September 28, 1933 in Selby Street, Wakefield, he was one of six children. He went to St Austin’s and Queen Elizabeth Grammar before completing an electrical apprenticeship at the Spencer Wire Company in Thornes and then two years of national service in the RAF.

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

In the 1970s he went into partnership with Bob Ashby of the Ashby Roofing Company in Wakefield, later Ashtree, and remained there until last year. At the same time, he pursued a career in local politics, along with his elder brother Norman, who was the city’s first Conservative mayor.

For a time Brian was deputy leader of the Conservative Group on Wakefield Council, deputy chairman of West Yorkshire Fire Authority and had a place on the National Fire authority in London. He was also the first Conservative to hold a place on the Council’s cabinet.

He set up the Suzy Fund in 1975 after he and fellow churchgoers in Wakefield were shown a picture of an emaciated girl left to die on a rubbish tip and told that a donation of just 10p could have saved her life.

He christened the unknown girl Suzy and established a scheme in which people could contribute small sums regularly to Third World projects. Over the years it helped fund a food station for street children in Addis Ababa, a hospital in Ethiopia and supported the charity Médecins Sans Frontière in Syria, Sudan and Somalia.

A devout Catholic who never missed a Sunday Mass, he is survived by six children, 11 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. His wife Lily (Lynne) died in 2017 after 58 years of marriage.