NEWS21 March 2018

Obituary: Barbara Lee

News People UK

UK – Barbara Lee, stalwart of telephone research and field interviewing, founder of Facts International and a fellow of the Market Research Society, died peacefully at home in Kent on 20th February 2018. She was 80 years old. 

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Barbara was born in Suffolk into a farming family. She had always wanted to see the world and when she was offered a post in New Zealand at 23, she emigrated, taking her Lambretta Scooter with her. She and Ann Stewart became friends and backpacked around Australia.

Barbara then worked for a time in a Tasmanian hospital, before returning to England a few years later when her father was taken ill, but her love of New Zealand has never faded – she and her friend Mary built a holiday home there, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, in 2004.

In her late 20s, Barbara entered the world of market research, firstly as an interviewer with NOP and then as field manager for Gordon Coulson. A few years later, she set up Fieldwork International in the second bedroom of her flat in London. Selling the company after 11 years, she started Facts International in Ashford. Over the years, the company grew to 120 employees, some of whom had been with Barbara for 30 years when she sold to Chime Communications and Nick Lamb in 2007.

Retiring at 70, Barbara studied astronomy through the Open University, acquiring several telescopes and an astrodome. She and Mary had wonderful holidays all over the world and acquired a motor home to travel all over Europe.

Barbara was a good friend to me for many years. I have many happy memories of times we spent together. She was also well respected in the industry. Virginia Monk says: “I have been a long admirer of her over the years. She was such a fantastic role model for women in business at a time when there were so few women in market research – such a lovely dignified lady.” 

Sue Robson, who met Barbara in 1970 when she herself was a young researcher, says: “I was much less experienced than Barbara and she was unfailingly kind and supportive to me in my career. I had a lot of respect for her skills and business acumen and I have many fond memories of her.”

Peter Bartram adds: “Hers was a life to celebrate.”

Rest in peace Barbara Mary Lee, you will be sadly missed by many.

Barbara’s funeral was held on 12th March at Barham Crematorium, Canterbury.