Vil­lage in shock over sea­plane deaths

Friends and neigh­bours in Hyde Heath pay trib­ute to Richards Cousins and his two sons

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - by Emer scully buck­snews@trin­i­tysouth.co.uk twit­ter: @get_bucks

FRIENDS of mil­lion­aire CEO Richard Cousins who died in the New Year’s Eve sea­plane crash in Australia have re­vealed that they re­ceived in­vi­ta­tions to his wed­ding just days ago.

Po­lice said Mr Cousins, 58, his wife-to-be Emma Bow­den, 48, and her 11-year-old daugh­ter Heather were all killed in an air ac­ci­dent in New South Wales on Sun­day.

His sons Ed, 23, and Will, 25, also died along with ex­pe­ri­enced pi­lot 44-year-old Gareth Mor­gan, when the plane crashed into the wa­ter and sank.

The group were in Australia on a fam­ily hol­i­day but died fly­ing back from lunch at Cot­tage Point to Sydney Har­bour ahead of the world fa­mous New Year’s Eve fireworks dis­play.

A neigh­bour, who asked not to be named but lives in Hyde Heath, near Amer­sham, where Mr Cousins owned a large prop­erty, re­vealed he had re­ceived in­vi­ta­tions for his friend’s up­com­ing wed­ding and en­gage­ment party in the post just days be­fore the tragedy.

“He was a won­der­ful man and they were a lovely fam­ily,” he said. “It’s just hor­ren­dous what has hap­pened.”

He added: “I think they flew out just be­fore Christ­mas and had Christ­mas out there.

“He was so look­ing forward to the wed­ding. He was as happy as can be.”

He added: “He had a bril­liant time in Australia as far as I know. This was a hol­i­day he had been plan­ning for a long time. He was a lovely man. A strange CEO, more so­cial­ist than most CEOs.”

The neigh­bour said the mar­riage was due to take place on July 21 and an en­gage­ment party was planned for the be­gin­ning of March.

He also re­vealed both of Mr Cousins’ sons were due to be best men and that lit­tle Heather was set to be a brides­maid for her mother.

An­other neigh­bour and re­tired nurse, Caro­line Franklin, 78, added: “They were very good neigh­bours. I’m still in to­tal shock – the whole vil­lage is. I just can’t be­lieve what’s hap­pened. It’s so sad.

“[Richard’s ex-wife] Caro­line died three or four years ago but she’d stop her Land Rover and we’d chat for hours.

“I didn’t know Richard that well, be­cause he was al­ways working in Lon­don, but the boys were both lovely chil­dren when they were younger – very po­lite and help­ful.

“They were all very much a large part of the com­mu­nity.”

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice, the plane came down off Jerusalem Bay near Cowan, 25 miles north of Sydney cen­tre, at about 3.10pm (4.10am GMT) on Sun­day (De­cem­ber 31).

Born in Leeds in 1959, Mr Cousins stud­ied maths at Sh­effield Univer­sity be­fore earn­ing a masters de­gree in op­er­a­tional re­search from Lan­caster Univer­sity.

His ca­reer started in 1990 at build­ings ma­te­ri­als com­pany BPB, where he worked as strate­gic plan­ning man­ager, group fi­nan­cial con­troller, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and pres­i­dent of the Canada branch.

Later on, in 2000, Mr Cousins was ap­pointed chief ex­ec­tu­ive and helped the com­pany grow in­ter­na­tion­ally, par­tic­u­larly in the United States.

In May 2006, Mr Cousins, who was plan­ning on re­tir­ing in March this year, left his job at BPB to lead Compass Group in Chert­sey, mak­ing it the world’s lead­ing cater­ing com­pany. It op­er­ates in more than 50 coun­tries and em­ploys over 550,000 peo­ple.

Paul Walsh, Compass Group chair­man, said: “It has been a great priv­i­lege to know Richard per­son­ally and to work with him for the last few years.

“Richard was known and re­spected for his great hu­man­ity and a nonon­sense style that trans­formed Compass into one of Bri­tain’s lead­ing com­pa­nies.”

In ad­di­tion, Mr Cousins has also served as non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of P&O plc, HBOS plc, Reckitt Benckiser Group plc and Tesco PLC. Out­side work, Mr Cousins was a keen crick­eter, both as a fol­lower of York­shire and Eng­land but also as an open­ing bats­man for a lo­cal team.

Col­leagues, celebri­ties and strangers have praised Mr Cousins’ work, with Roland Rudd, chair­man of Open Bri­tain, de­scrib­ing him as “one of the great­est busi­ness­men of his gen­er­a­tion”. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion is un­der way to es­tab­lish the ex­act cir­cum­stances of the in­ci­dent

richard Cousins who died in a plane crash in sydney along­side his two sons, his fi­ancée and her daugh­ter

PHOTO: PERRY DUF­FIN/AAP/PA WIRE

Po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors car­ry­ing a piece of de­bris re­cov­ered from the crashed plane

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