Globetrotting businessman Neville Packett, who has died aged 91 in Ilkley, was “one of a kind“ and “light years ahead of the competition“, according to his nephew Charles, who has paid tribute to his achievements.
Neville Packett was a former managing director of insurance brokers Sydney Packett & Sons, which he joined after war service in the Middle East and North Africa.
The firm, now based in Shipley, was founded in Bradford by his father Sydney, a former Deputy Lord Mayor of Bradford, in 1920 and is now run by Charles and his brother Andrew Packett, and is one of the largest independent insurance brokers in the north of England.
Charles Packett said: “Neville was an outstanding figure whose honest approach to business and willingness to search the globe for new opportunities were crucial to the continued success of the firm. His travels took him to far flung places and resulted in us arranging insurance cover for the entire Australian wheat crop as well as business in Fiji and Tonga, where Neville became a personal friend of the Crown Prince of Tonga.
“He really was one of a kind and light years ahead of his competitors. At one point he had meetings with the Woolworth retail chain about the idea of setting up insurance stalls manned by a broker, solicitor, estate agent and accountant in every one of their UK stores. It's a result of his efforts that we still have contracts with Fiji and Tonga.”
Neville Packett, who was awarded an MBE in 1974, was also the author of a number of travel guides to more obscure destinations, including the tiny Republic of Nauru, in the Pacific ocean, which is only 3.5 miles long by 2.5 miles wide. He also wrote a guide to San Marino, a holiday guide to Tonga as well as books about Bradfords around the world, and A-Z and history of the office of Lord Lieutenant and a diamond jubilee history of Sydney Packett & Sons in 1980.
In 1956 he took part in one of the first unofficial visits by British and American tourists to the Soviet Union, and also visited India, Pakistan, Japan and Thailand to help boost business.
Mr Packett was president of the Insurance Institute of Bradford in 1959-60, and became an active life member. He also served on the Bradford Chamber of Commerce council, the Insurance Industry Training Council and the Corporation of Insurance Brokers.
A long-serving Bradford magistrate, Mr Packett was also St John Ambulance county commander for West and South Yorkshire; a Freeman of the City of London, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a past master of the Worshipful Company of Woolmen of London.
An active freemason, he was also awarded an honorary Masters degree by the University of Bradford in 1992.
His funeral was taking place at All Saints parish church, Ilkley, today at 2pm.