Victoria Beazley obituary

Other lives: Fleet Street media sales manager with a formidable reputation as a negotiator

My friend Victoria Beazley, who has died aged 67 after a short illness, was a rare combination. On the one hand, she was a fearsomely successful sales manager who used her street-smart business sense to generate millions of pounds in advertising revenue for the various Fleet Street publications she worked for. On the other, she was a kind and empathetic manager who used praise and encouragement to engender loyalty and to get the best out of her team.

She commanded respect throughout Fleet Street and in the wider advertising industry. There was even talk that Vicki was the inspiration behind the magazine publisher character portrayed by Kathy Burke in the TV comedy Absolutely Fabulous.

Born in Battersea, south-west London, the eldest of five children of Harry Beazley, a refuse collector, and Sheila, a dinner lady, Vicki was educated at Battersea county school, where she was a contemporary of the actor Timothy Spall. She left aged 16 to start work in secretarial positions, initially for the publisher Weidenfeld and Nicholson. She then moved to J Walter Thompson, where she worked in the planning department.

In 1975, she took a sabbatical and, with a group of close friends, travelled to Cornwall where she lived for two years enjoying an alternative lifestyle as a hippy. When the money ran out, she returned to London and joined Grey Advertising, soon moving to Media Buying Services, the UK’s first media buying specialist, where she became a press planner.

In this role, she was able to put her head for figures, her wits and her fantastic sense of humour to good use. She soon developed a reputation as a gregarious yet tough negotiator. She met Sean Kelleher while working at MBS and left in 1984, just before their daughter, Alice, was born.

Vicki decided to return to work when Alice was two years old, progressing to a new career in media sales. She started as a group head at the London Evening Standard in March 1987, becoming the advertising manager of ES Magazine at its launch in 1988. Originally, this was given away with the paid-for newspaper on the first Friday of every month. Within a year, the magazine had a circulation of more than 600,000 and was highly profitable.

Vicki later oversaw the title’s conversion to a weekly supplement. In 1992, she was also appointed advertising manager of Hot Tickets, the newspaper’s weekly entertainment supplement.

In the 1980s and 90s long lunches were often key to doing business and Vicki loved dining with advertising agency clients in fashionable restaurants, her favourite being Joe Allen’s. However, true to her Battersea roots, she was always keen to let people know that her preferred meal was pie and mash, with jellied eels on the side.

She left the Evening Standard in 1997 and took a year off, but was lured back to Fleet Street in 1998 to work at Sunday Business, where she was advertising manager for five years.

When Vicki left Sunday Business, she decided to change direction. She worked for the British Heart Foundation , then retrained as a bereavement counsellor. It was a role she relished, and she continued to counsel clients throughout the pandemic.

She is survived by Alice and two grandchildren, Dylan and Joni, and by her siblings, Vivienne, Maxine, Stuart and Danielle.

Tara Silvester

The GuardianTramp

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