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Former Devon hotelier Valerie McDermott-Brown dies at 89

22 June 2015 by

Former Devon hotelier Valerie McDermott-Brown has died at the age of 89.

With her husband, Leslie McDermott-Brown, she ran the 72-bedroom Duke of Cornwall hotel in Plymouth for 33 years until 1986.

Born in Totnes, Devon, as Valerie Reed, she spent the early years of her career as assistant secretary to the captain of Dartmouth Royal Naval College. Valerie subsequently joined the hotel industry, initially working as secretary to a Torquay general manager and then as head receptionist at the Thurlestone hotel in Thurlestone.

The McDermott-Browns returned to Devon in 1953 to head up the Duke of Cornwall hotel, with Leslie as general manager.

Mark McDermott, the couple's son, said: "Valerie's influence was felt throughout a variety of roles she occupied during her time at the Duke, earning her the respect of the staff, who always addressed her as Mrs Brown.

"She was a compassionate and caring hotelier and was central to developing a sense of family amongst the staff of the hotel, a tradition that continues to this day."

After Leslie died in 1993, Valerie embarked on a lasting partnership with Douglas Owen and together they enjoyed a long and happy retirement at her home in Plymouth.

She is survived by three sons, Simon, Mark and Antony, and six grandchildren.

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