Lee Whitmore, the co-founder of Lee Lifting passed away on Tuesday, January 10th, following a long illness, he had only just celebrated his 72nd birthday in December. He retired as a director of the company that bears his name in 2018.
Lee Whitmore started out in the crane industry as a young crane driver in the early 1970s with Sparrows crane Hire, working from its Colnbrook depot, near Heathrow airport. Then in 1981 he made the bold move of setting up his own business in partnership with his wife Kath, who remains a director of the company.
The first machine in the fleet was a 20 tonne Kato truck crane, business was obviously good, as the following year the couple acquired a new 25 tonne Grove TMS 250 truck crane and had the luxury of choosing a corporate colour and livery for the new business. Lee was keen that the company’s cranes would stand out and so they plumped for a vibrant bright green, which he dubbed ‘Lee Lifting Green’. On taking delivery of the new crane, he went directly to a job at Pinewood Studios where his enthusiasm and drive made him to stand out as someone who was reliable and did a good job.
Over the years the company has provided cranes for many of the big films made at the studios, including several Bond films, such as Casino Royale in 2006, for which he teamed up with City Lifting to supply two tower cranes and a mobile for filming in the Bahamas. Other films the company has worked with range from Indiana Jones to Superman, all the way through to Harry Potter and Star Wars. His children point out that Lee Lifting continues to carry on his passion and dedication for providing a quality service.
His son Danny sums up what many of those who knew have said: "A great man for many different and unique reasons. His humour, his passion , his ambition or maybe as the man who flew superman!! He will be greatly missed by us all.”
He leaves behind his wife and founding partner Kath, along with sons Danny and Jody and sisters Cassie, and Jemma.
RIP Lee. It was a pleasure knowing you. My thoughts go out to Kath and the family. Peter Burwell.
Another innovative pioneer of the UK crane rental industry passes.
Rest in peace Lee