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Tributes to “master strategist” Norwich Union chief Albert Mills who has died at 74

PUBLISHED: 13:41 06 December 2017 | UPDATED: 13:41 06 December 2017

Chairman Albert Mills at the Prince's Trust regional awards in Norwich last night. <1005>
Photo: Bill Smith
Copy: Ben Kendall
For: EDP
Archant © 2006
(01603) 772434

Chairman Albert Mills at the Prince's Trust regional awards in Norwich last night. <1005> Photo: Bill Smith Copy: Ben Kendall For: EDP Archant © 2006 (01603) 772434

Archant © 2006

Former chief executive of Norwich Union Albert Mills has been described as a “master strategist” with a tremendous sense of humour” following his death at the age of 74.

More than 300 people attended a celebration to mark Mr Mills’ life at Dunston Hall last week as the man who turned around the fortunes of the insurance giant by floating it on the stock market in the 1990s.

He is survived by wife of 50 years Cynthia, son Andrew, and daughter Sarah.

By his retirement in 1999, Mr Mills was the longest serving executive director on the Norwich Union board, and wad governor of the Norfolk Prince’s Trust for 10 years.

Former Norwich Union group chief executive Richard Harvey said Mr Mills had turned the business around.

“By the time we got to flotation we had an impeccable track record of a profitable and a growing business,” he said. “He was a master strategist who could always see what was best for the long-term. He would then marshal his resources, set his priorities, never take on more than he could manage, and always deliver what he promised.

“I never heard him raise his voice except to cheer a colleague on, but no one was ever in any doubt about his determination and seriousness when it mattered.

“He left a legacy which continued to be successful throughout my time at Aviva.”

Mr Mills was born on September 23 near Grimsby but moved to the Larkman Estate in Norwich in 1945. He attended City of Norwich School and moved straight into work at Norwich Union.

The year after his retirement in 1999 he hiked Kilimanjaro, often seen walking Norfolk’s lanes with a rucksack full of bricks in training.

He was also a “keen squash player with a wicked left hand”, according to his son, Andrew.

Friend Richard Harvey admitted: “He was a great sportsman in every sense of the word and would thrash me effortlessly in squash...in the kindest possible way.”

In 2016 Mr Mills was diagnosed with Parkinsons, and life slowed down, according to his son, Andrew, but “he hadn’t lost his love of adventures”.

He had trips planned for next year to Costa Rica and Svalbard.

“He wasn’t your usual 74-year-old,” Andrew added.

“As a dad, Sarah and I could ask for no more - nurturing, encouraging, fair. A fantastic role model for parenting”.

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