Rachel Dawson, the owner and manager of Millhouses Travel Worldchoice, has died, aged 48.
Her husband of 24 years, Steve Dawson, and daughters Holly (21) and Olivia (16) paid tribute to her dedication to travel during her 32-year career at the family-run agency in Sheffield.
Daughter Holly said Rachel had been set on a career in travel and tourism as soon as she left school at 16 and joined the family business.
Rachel also studied travel and tourism at Nottingham College, and took over Millhouses from her step-father in 2009.
“She was so dedicated to the business that she worked the day before going into labour with both children,” said Holly.
“Rachel achieved what most people would have loved: she was her own person and had her own business — all this was possible due to her bubbly personality and ability to talk to everyone.
“While she owned her own business, a business can only ever be as good as the staff who are employed and the girls in the office – Gill Griffin, Helen Watkins and Shirley Spooner – have been absolutely excellent both in work and in support.
“Rachel was loved by everyone, very knowledgeable, well travelled and never missed a convention.
“She was also an active member of The Travel Network Group and was the treasurer of the Active Travel Group in her own area.”
Details of her funeral are being finalised.
Steve Riley of Ashley Adams Worldchoice in Driffield has set up a memory page for Rachel with Cancer Research UK, and donations have already reached £1,030.
As chairman of the Active Travel Group, he has collected tributes from Rachel’s friends and colleagues.
He said: “There are few words which could describe how sad and devastated we all are. We have lost a very dear friend and the industry a massive one, but I will try and show what the queen of the designer label meant to us all.
“She was one of the nicest people you could ever have the pleasure of knowing who always looked for the good in the world.
“My first and lasting memory of Rachel was on a conference many years ago. Rachel introduced me to granola bars. After a late night and the bars closed, we wandered the streets in search for kebabs.
“Patricia, Rachel and I walked, laughing and joking, until daylight.
“Finally, Rachel said: ‘I’ve a granola bar back at the hotel,’ so we went back and shared a bar. I was the worst thing I’ve ever tried and the girls laughed at my reaction.
“Ever since if we were out anywhere and had to wait for food, Rachel would mention the word granola and we would start laughing.”
Here are some more memories he has collected from fellow agents:
• Rachel and Kath went on many trips together and would often share a room. As a cost-cutting measure, Kath brought some vodka, which they both liked to drink, and she put it in a water bottle marked with a V. While Kath was in the bathroom, Rachel shouted to her and asked if she could drink her water. Kath rushed to tell her it was not water, but was too late and as she emerged from the bathroom Rachel was just taking a large swig from the bottle – after which she shrieked and danced about the room insisting that Kath was trying to kill her. (KD)
• Rachel was a warm, funny, and supportive member of the Active region. The many trips, conferences and meetings we have enjoyed would have not been the same without her. Her positive attitude even during her illness is something for which I will always admire her, and our region will never be the same without her. (JB)
• Rachel was a lovely lady, always contributing to the meetings and joining fam trips where she participated fully. Late nights had been known as she danced the evening away with her many friends from Active and in the trade, who all enjoyed her warmth and enthusiasm. Sorely missed (GR).
• Can I just say how much fun I had with Rachel – she always made me laugh. We’ve met at a few Yorkshire Balls over the years and always, literally, had a ball, dancing and laughing. We shared a love of pornstar martinis and I will always think of Rachel whenever I drink one again. We had fun shopping and comparing clothes, shoes and handbags. Rachel will be very fondly remembered by me always. (HN)
• My lasting memories will be from our recent cruise launch on Bellissima with her partner-in-crime Carol. I gate-crashed their dinner table. Rachel made me feel welcome as she always did and insisted I pinch a chair off someone else’s table as she was very persuasive. Rachel always looked amazing and her hair was just stunning, always easily recognisable and the envy of many of us girls. (DC)
• Rachel, I’m sorry you’ve been taken away from us. I’ll always remember how kind you always were to me, how you teased me about my orange smart car – and then how much you laughed when I ran over a sheep in it. You’ll be missed at every Yorkshire Ball I will ever go to, every Worldchoice conference I go to and whenever I’m driving past Millhouses. You’ll always be in my thoughts. Sleep tight Mrs. (RH)
• We had the most amazing times at travel events and ship launches with lots of laughter. I will never forget Mark Wright thinking I was stalking him as Rachel wanted some photos of him for Holly – I even made friends with his mum to get this photo for her. I did draw the line when she asked me to go and get a video message for her and after lots of persuasion she finally went herself. He was charming and Holly has the video to prove it. (CK)
To donate to the Cancer Research UK memory page set up for Rachel, click here.
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