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Tributes paid to Crane Fruehauf manager, Basil Day, who ‘put the world on wheels’

PUBLISHED: 12:14 12 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:46 12 September 2017

Basil Day, at his desk at Crane-Fruehauf, as chief executive in 1986. Photo: Archant

Basil Day, at his desk at Crane-Fruehauf, as chief executive in 1986. Photo: Archant

Archant

Well-known Dereham man and Crane Fruehauf chairman and chief executive, Basil Day, has died aged 87.

Destined for the European market, trailers under construction at Crane Fruehauf's factory in North Walsham, where Mr Day was general manager. (1991) Photo: Archant Library Destined for the European market, trailers under construction at Crane Fruehauf's factory in North Walsham, where Mr Day was general manager. (1991) Photo: Archant Library

Mr Day started work as a product engineer at the Dereham trailer maker, Cranes, in 1954.

And while he stayed close to his Norfolk roots - and his home in Beetley - his career with the manufacturing company took him all over the world.

Mr Day’s success at financial troubleshooting, both at home and abroad, saw him rise through the ranks at Crane Fruehauf.

He was made general manager of the North Walsham factory in 1962. By 1980, after periods working in Mexico and Holland, and a 1967 round-the-world trip that took him to Australia, America, Singapore, and Japan, he was made Crane Fruehauf’s managing director.

He became chairman and CEO of the company in 1986, and in the same year, as one of 70 out of 29,000 employees, a part-owner.

Mr Day retired in 1990, but the businessman showed no signs of slowing down. He focused on publishing a book on local history, after discovering that almost 25pc of the graves in the Wreningham churchyard bore the name ‘Day’.

In his retirement, Mr Day also enjoyed fishing, gardening, golf, and swimming, and relished time watching Norwich City games.

But despite every success in the business world, Mr Day was a proud family man. He leaves his wife of 64 years, Sheila Day, sons Graeme and Roger, daughters-in-law Sue and Suzie, grandchildren Grace, Jack, Nicky, Sarah, and Adam, and great-grandchildren Lauren and Lewis. They have paid tributes to him as a beloved husband, father, and grandfather.

Mrs Day described her husband as “extremely hard-working”, and his son Roger called his father a “unique” man.

He said: “[In companies] today you find the top people either don’t know their staff, or they don’t know their product.

“Dad was an engineer, a natural salesman, and knew the figures.

“His character was very outgoing, and Crane Fruehauf was his life outside his family.

“Everyone in Norfolk knew the name ‘Basil Day’.”

Read more: If you worked at the old Crane Fruehauf factory at North Walsham you may recognise some of the faces at this reunion

Mr Day died on Friday September 1, after a short illness. His funeral will be held at St Nicholas’ Church, Dereham, on Tuesday, September 19, at 11.30am. The family have asked that, instead of flowers, any donations should be made to the Help for Heroes and the Make a Wish Foundation charities.

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