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Deborah Meaden

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Nationality  British
Net worth  £40 million
Role  Businesswoman
Parents  Sonia Meaden
Occupation  Businesswoman
Name  Deborah Meaden
Spouse  Paul Meaden (m. 1993)
TV shows  Dragons' Den
Deborah Meaden Deborah Meaden on Strictly Come Dancing will only take
Born  11 February 1959 (age 56) (1959-02-11) Taunton, Somerset, England
Residence  Somerset Primrose Hill, London
Alma mater  Brighton Technical College
Known for  Dragons' Den, Strictly Come Dancing
Education  City College Brighton & Hove
Books  Common Sense Rules: What You Really Need to Know about Business, Dragons' Den: Success from Pitch to Profit
Similar People  Peter Jones, Theo Paphitis, Duncan Bannatyne, Sarah Willingham, Touker Suleyman

Lsbf great minds series deborah meaden interview

Deborah Sonia Meaden (born 11 February 1959) is an English businesswoman who ran a multimillion-pound family holiday business, before completing a management buyout, but is now best known for her appearances on the BBC Two business programme Dragons' Den.


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Dragons den mr and mrs with peter jones and deborah meaden

Early life

Meaden was born in Somerset. Her parents divorced when she was young and her mother moved Deborah and her older sister Gail to Brightlingsea in Essex. Her mother remarried and had two more daughters (Cass and Emma) with Brian, the man Meaden calls Dad. Meaden went to the Godolphin School, Salisbury, for a brief period and then to Trowbridge High School (now The John of Gaunt School).


Deborah Meaden News MicroLoan Foundation gt Deborah Meaden BBC Lifeline

On leaving school when she was 16, Meaden studied business at Brighton Technical College, after which she worked as a sales-room model in a fashion house. After graduation, she moved to Italy at 19 and set up a glass and ceramics export agency, which sold products to retailers including Harvey Nichols. The company failed after 18 months.

Meaden and a partner bought one of the first Stefanel textile franchises in the UK, and which was based in the West Country; she sold out two years later to her partner for £10,000. She then had several successful leisure and retail businesses including a spell operating a Prize Bingo at Butlins in Minehead.

In 1988, Meaden joined her family's business to run its amusement arcade operations and in 1992, joined Weststar Holidays, a family holiday park operator based in Exeter, Devon but with its major sites based in South West England. In 1999, she led a management buyout and acquired the majority shareholding. By the time she sold the company 6 years later, the Weststar was providing holidays for more than 150,000 people each year with an EBITDA in excess of £11m. In 2005 she made a partial exit when Weststar was sold in a deal worth £33 million to Phoenix Equity Partners, and in August 2007 her remaining stake of 23% in Weststar Holidays was liquidated when the firm was sold to Alchemy Partners for £83m, valuing her stake at about £19m.

In 2009, Meaden acquired Fox Brothers, a West Country textile mill established in 1772 and still based in Wellington, Somerset along with fellow shareholder, Douglas Cordeaux, former design director at Pepe Jeans London. She was also involved in a collaboration with BBC conductor Charles Hazlewood, 'Play the Field', a weekend of classical music on Charles's farm in Somerset over the August bank holiday weekend 2009. In October 2011, Meaden launched 'The Merchant Fox', an online store selling British-made luxury goods with provenance.

Dragons' Den

Meaden is most famous for her appearance as a "dragon" on the BBC Two programme Dragons' Den. She took over from Rachel Elnaugh in the third series of the show on 3 August 2006. Like Elnaugh who preceded her, Meaden was the only female "dragon" on the programme, although this changed in subsequent seasons with the arrival of Hilary Devey to replace James Caan. So far in the Den, she has agreed investments in 34 businesses to the value of over £2m. Only Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis have invested more than Meaden, although they have been on the show for longer.

Strictly Come Dancing

Meaden took part in the eleventh series of the BBC One dancing show Strictly Come Dancing, which began on 7 September 2013 and was partnered with professional dancer Robin Windsor. She was eliminated from the show on 26 October.

Other appearances

  • GMTV (28 January 2009) – Guest
  • The Speaker (April 2009) – Guest, offering her advice on speaking with conviction
  • Friday Night with Jonathan Ross (24 July 2009) – Guest
  • Hustle (January 2010) – Guest appearance
  • Would I Lie To You? (3 September 2010) – Panellist
  • Pointless (22 December 2010) – Contestant with Theo Paphitis
  • Loose Women (11 January 2011 and 14 October 2013) – Guest
  • The Alan Titchmarsh Show (8 March 2011 and 4 October 2012) – Guest
  • Lorraine (22 September 2011, 24 September 2012, 18 and 29 October 2013) – Guest
  • Ask Rhod Gilbert (28 September 2011) – Guest
  • Celebrity Antiques Road Trip (26 October 2011) – Participant with Theo Paphitis
  • 12 Again (2 June 2012) – Guest
  • Alan Carr: Chatty Man (5 October 2012 and 30 August 2013) – Guest
  • Daybreak (5 December 2012) – Guest
  • Room 101 (25 January 2013) – Guest
  • The Agenda (4 March, 25 November 2013 and 13 October 2014) – Guest
  • Have I Got News For You (17 May 2013) – Panellist
  • Let's Do Lunch with Gino & Mel (23 July 2013) – Guest
  • 8 Out of 10 Cats (24 February 2014) – Panellist
  • The Guess List (19 April 2014) – Guest
  • All About Two (20 April 2014) – Panellist
  • Hacker Time (13 August 2014) – Guest
  • Murder In Successville (20 May 2015) – Herself
  • The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice (21 August 2015) – Guest
  • The Chase: Celebrity Special (7 November 2015) – Contestant
  • Eamonn & Ruth: How The Other Half Lives (17 November 2015) – Guest
  • Personal life

    Meaden met her husband, Paul, in summer 1985, while he worked at Weststar during his university break. She didn't want a family so they separated, but after she took a trip to Venezuela, she returned to London and they married in 1993. The couple have no children, and live on a restored model farm in Somerset with numerous animals.


    Meaden published Common Sense Rules (Random House) in the UK in May 2009. She used a ghostwriting service known as Professional Ghost to complete this project.

    Other work

    In November 2009, Meaden featured in a short film to promote Somerset to businesses, commissioned by Into Somerset, having previously recorded two other short films for the inward investment agency in February 2009.

    Meaden is a member of the Council of Ambassadors of the World Wildlife Fund.

    She does a lot of work with the Dogs Trust charity.


    In 2009, a planning inspector criticised Meaden's evidence to his enquiry as "implausible" in a dispute over the granting of village green status to a field on which Mudstone LLP, a firm in which she is a partner, wished to build 48 homes.


    In July 2010, Meaden was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Exeter Business School. She also received an honorary degree from Staffordshire University in the same month. She was also given an honorary degree at Keele University in July 2013. In July 2014, Meaden was awarded an honorary degree from Bath Spa University.


    Deborah Meaden Wikipedia