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TRIBUTES TO FORKLIFT LEGEND BRIAN; 'Huge shock' to family as businessman dies, aged 66.

Byline: Duncan Gibbons

TRIBUTES TO FORKLIFT LEGEND BRIAN TRIBUTES have been paid to a well-known Warwickshire businessman who has died, aged 66.

Brian Nealon, of Pillerton Hersey, near Stratford, suffered a heart attack at the family home on Monday, November 29.

Mr Nealon was boss of Kenilworth forklift truck firm Bendigo Mitchell and deputy patron of Warwick's Lord Leycester Hospital.

He leaves his wife of 41 years, Wendy, and two sons, Duncan and Alastair.

Duncan, who succeeds his father as managing director, said: "It has come as a huge shock to all of us, we didn't see it coming.

"The reaction within the industry has been quite staggering. The levels of sadness and respect show just how popular a man he was.

"As a business though, we will move forward as he would have wanted, and continue my father's excellent work and commitment.

"It is obviously not just about the business however.

On top of all of his achievements, he was simply put, a lovely, lovely man. "As a family we have lost a fantastic husband, father and friend."

Brian Nealon was born in Coventry in 1944 and completed a five-year apprenticeship at Coventry Climax. In 1965, he was part of the firm's Formula One racing team, serving as tuner to world champion Jim Clark.

The following year Mr Nealon joined forklift truck firm Lansing Bagnall as assistant sales engineer in the Midlands, rising to regional manager, but left in 1978 to found Bendigo Mitchell Ltd (BML) with former colleague Tony Barr.

In 1986, BML joined the then Fork Truck Hire Association (now FLTA) and the following year Mr Nealon was invited to join the board of the FTHA, where he was chairman and president.

In 1998 he bought out his partner to take sole charge of BML.

Outside of work Mr Nealon was an active member of Warwick Round Table in the 1970s, serving as chairman and president, before helping set up the Warwick Ex-Tablers Club, that continues to this day.

Last year he was invited to become a Coventry 'ambassador', promoting the city whenever possible and, for the past three years, was deputy patron to the Lord Leycester Hospital in Warwick.

While a late entrant to the sport, Mr Nealon was a keen runner. He ran the London Marathon in aid of the Children's Society and the Banbury 15 at the age of 56, the Great North Run and the Two Castles Run from Warwick to Kenilworth.

Skiing was his passion though, and in February he skiied the World Cup Lauterbrunnen run in Wengen, Switzerland.

Mr Nealon's funeral is at St Mary Immaculate RC Church, in West Street, Warwick, at 1.30pm on Wednesday, December 15. All are welcome.

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'LOVELY MAN': Brian Nealon
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 4, 2010
Words:457
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