Harpenden founder of Blue Arrow recruitment agency dies at 87

08:15 30 December 2015

Sheila Watson-Challis

Sheila Watson-Challis


The founder of the Blue Arrow employment and recruitment agency, Sheila Watson-Challis, has died at her home in Harpenden at the age of 87.

As a mother of three and under the business name of Sheila Birch, she set up the agency on a part-time basis in St Albans in 1959 and built up a variety of linked businesses over the next two decades.

In 1981 local businessman Tony Berry bought a controlling stake in Blue Arrow which bought up Brook Street Bureau and Manpower during his ownership.

Sheila, who was the partner of Mike Watson Challis, former owner of Luton Town FC, found herself in the headlines in the 1980s when she was at the centre of a row over moving the club to land the couple owned at Junction 10 of the M1 motorway. The proposal never came to fruition.

As well as her home in West Common, Harpenden, Sheila had homes in Guernsey and America and had lived near St Albans Abbey at one time.


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