Rags to riches business tycoon leaves behind £8m fortune

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A BUTCHER who went from rags to riches left behind more than £8 million when he passed away last year.

Martyn Godfrey was 60-years-old when he suffered a sudden heart attack in August, despite being described as “quite fit” by his son.

Mr Godfrey left school when he was 15 to become an apprentice butcher and by the time of his death he was a multi-millionaire.

Despite his humble beginnings, by the end of his life he had worked his way up to become the chairman of Browns Food Group, a food manufacturing organisation worth a cool £100 million.

Mr Godfrey’s will, which was published this week, showed that he had an estate worth £8,046,122.67.

He is survived by his five children, Wayne, 39, Lee, 36, Warren, 31, Bridget, 26, and Cameron, 21.

The money left in his will has been retained by his family and in the business.

Mr Godfrey was ranked 51st on Management Today’s 2010 survey of the Top 100 Entrepreneurs.

Mr Godfrey’s success even led to him mixing with royalty as the Princess Royal opened a Brown Brothers’ extension in 2001.

He said at the time: “It was a great privilege.”

Brown Brothers, a cooked meat producer and delicatessen supplier, was founded in 1885 as a small butchers in Biggar, Lanarkshire.

Mr Godfrey bought the business from the Brown family 100 years later in 1985 and moved it to Kirkconnel, Dumfriesshire.

For then on it grew into Browns Food Group which now owns nine subsidiary companies and employs around 900 people.

The group operates from six sites in the UK and describes itself as “one of the leading independent manufacturers in the industry”.

The organisation has been kept in the family with all five of the children working for the food group.

Mr Godfrey was said to have a “passion” for the Monte Carlo vintage car rally, but his “most serious hobby” was his work.

In 1993 the food tycoon “let go” of half of his business turnover in a bid to refocus himself towards manufacturing.

By 2001 that manufacturing business had a turnover of more than £23 million, and as the highest paid director in the company he was taking home an estimated £233,000 a year.

His son Lee said his father was generous and always ready to help if someone needed it.

He said when out socialising, Mr Godfrey would always offer to pick up the tab.

He said: “Everything he did was smart but casual. He wasn’t into being formal but he was always smart.”

Mr Godfrey’s son also revealed that his father had been a keen supporter of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

“He used to have some boats so he would keep up with the RNLI. And I joined the Merchant Navy when I left school so I think that kept him interested too.”

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