Tycoon Jimi Heselden’s widow keeps place in rich list

THE widow of Yorkshire entrepreneur and philanthropist Jimi Heselden and their family have once again been ranked among Britain’s richest people.
Julie Heselden, widow of Jimi Heselden OBE (below).Julie Heselden, widow of Jimi Heselden OBE (below).
Julie Heselden, widow of Jimi Heselden OBE (below).

Julie Heselden and relatives inherited the Segway boss’s estate after he died in a fall from a cliff while riding one of his company’s own hi-tech scooters near his home in Boston Spa.

Their wealth is valued at £343m according to the Sunday Times Rich List, with the family retaining its ranking as having the eighth-biggest fortune in the region.

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Nationally, the family is now the 254th richest, having slid 10 places since last year – although the value of their wealth has remained the same since then.

Jimi HeseldenJimi Heselden
Jimi Heselden

And it is more than double the £166m fortune that earned Mr Heselden 395th place in the list in the year he died, aged 62, in 2010.

Mr Heselden, a former miner who grew up in Leeds, made his millions when he invented the Concertainer “blast wall” basket, which military forces across the world have used as a defence system to replace traditional sandbag barriers. His creation has been credited with saving soldiers’ lives in Afghanistan and Iraq.

His Leeds-based business, Hesco Bastion, bought US firm Segway in 2009.

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Mr Heselden shared much of his wealth, giving away more than £23m to charity, and his widow has honoured his “spirit of giving” by continuing to support the causes that were close to his heart – particularly those in Leeds or related to the armed forces.

Yorkshire’s rich list was topped for the third year running by Hull brothers Eddie and Malcolm Healey, who share a joint fortune of £1.5bn.

Eddie, 75, is best known for turning a piece of derelict land beside the M1 in Sheffield into the Meadhowhall shopping centre. Its sale in 1999 netted him £420m. He also sold a half share in the Centro shopping centre, near Dusseldorf, Germany, in 2011 for £593m.

Malcolm, 67, made his fortune in the kitchen retail trade, founding first the Hygena chain, then Wren kitchens.

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The billionaire brothers are the 48th richest people in the country.

Close behind them in second place in Yorkshire and at number 67 nationally is Lord Kirkham and his family, whose wealth has soared to £1.15bn.

The South Yorkshire life peer founded sofa retailer DFS and made £300m from its £500m sale in 2010.

Elsewhere in the list, Wakefield-based Poundworld founder Chris Edwards and his son, also Chris, have been propelled into the regional top 20 after profits at the discount chain rose to £8.6m on sales of £206.5m in 2011-12.

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Their joint personal wealth is now valued at £150m, up from £80m last year, ranking them in joint 18th place in Yorkshire and 522nd nationally.

Also in 18th place regionally is Yorkshire Evening Post reporter-turned-novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford, who shot to literary stardom with her 1979 debut, A Woman of Substance.

The valuation of the Leeds-born author’s wealth has dropped from £188m to £150m in the 2013 Sunday Times Rich List following advice from financial experts in the publishing industry.

It is believed that her earnings had been overestimated in recent years.

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The list – published this Sunday as a supplement in the newspaper – profiles the 1,000 richest people and families in the UK and the wealthiest 250 in Ireland.

It is based on identifiable wealth including land, property, other assets such as art and racehorses, or significant shares in publicly quoted companies.

This year, a £75m fortune is required to make it into the top 1,000 of the Rich List, which is compiled by Philip Beresford, the leading authority on British wealth, and edited by Ian Coxon.