HAD ALWAYS BEEN HIS LIFE'
- - Captain Richard G.
died on 22 October aged 56, was a director of Seaforth Shipping Kenya
In many ways the
shipping agency business he built was his greatest achieve-ment.
When he took the helm in
1990 Seaforth had just one client.
A decade later it was
competing with global players and had become one of the most
successful general shipping agencies in Mombasa.
RGA was the consummate
Ask any of his peers and
they would agree that no one knew Mombasa port as he did.
He lived and breathed
- - Captain Richard G.
Alongside golf, it
formed most of his conversation.
Competitors and friends
often sought his advice over a 'White Cap' in the Mission to Seamen or
the Mombasa Club and, while some were guarded, he happily dis-pensed
Shipping had always been
At 17 he left home to
join the Merchant Navy, cheating the eye test to pass the recruitment
The work was hard but
It took him round the
world and gave him his first encounters with East Africa.
Twelve years with the
British India Steamship Navigation Company turned him into the
fiercely self-reliant character that later made him so dependable.
His travels began soon
after he was born in Dartford, Kent on 20 December 1943.
The first years of his childhood were spent in Brazil, then Australia.
At six his father died
and, with his mother, he returned to England.
But the country of his
birth never felt like home.
On one occasion he
skipped a family holiday and, with just 20 pounds in his pocket,
hitch-hiked for two weeks round France.
Later the Merchant Navy
At 28 he captained his
first vessel, having received his Masters Certificate the previous
But he soon realised
that the British Merchant Service offered few opportunities for a man
of his ambitions and decided to leave the sea.
He returned to London in
1973 to look for work ashore.
While working for United
States Lines he took up fencing and at his local club met Judy.
After six weeks together
he proposed and on 20 April 1974 they were married.
The next year he landed
a job with Dodwell Shipping in Tokyo, Japan and a son, Philip,
Two years later a
daughter, Katy, followed and in 1982 the family moved to Kenya.
As general manager of
Dodwell (later to become Inchcape Shipping Services), Mombasa, he
swiftly became an integral part of the local shipping set.
His booming voice and
sailor's invincibility at the bar had few equals.
Turning Seaforth around
was a considerable challenge but RGA reveled in adversity.
In social circles he was
known as "Bwana Controversial" for his love of argument and
He committed himself
wholeheartedly to the company, forgoing his holiday for the first few
years to ensure his children's English public school education was not
A lucky windfall in the
UK football pools in 1990 helped fund one term's fees as he found his
His hard work and
relentless determination soon paid off.
Seaforth Shipping grew
from strength to strength.
An office was opened in
Dar-es-Salaam in 1999.
Together with his
Nairobi partner, Mike Dunford, also a former Dodwell employee, they
made a formidable team in shipping circles.
A competitive character,
fighting defined much of his life, including his battle with cancer -
one of the few he lost.
He was an excellent
squash player and a keen golfer, though prone to the occasional banana
He could also be
immensely generous and beneath his sometimes fearsome exterior lay a
He helped restore the
fortunes of the Mission to Seamen with frequent donations as well as
his bar tab, and he often took drifters under his wing or put them up
at no expense.
Occasionally he mixed
kind-heartedness with business at great cost to himself, but that was
his way and no amount of good advice would persuade him to behave
Few doubt he would have
made an excellent Honorary British Consul, the position offered him
just before he was diagnosed with cancer.
It was a proud moment,
His feelings for Kenya
blew hot and cold.
He loved the country yet
its inefficiencies drove him mad.
But what he didn't love,
he loved to hate, and in his months of sickness he was never happier
than when he returned.
He is survived by his
wife and two children.