Village in shock over seaplane deaths
Friends and neighbours in Hyde Heath pay tribute to Richards Cousins and his two sons
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
Police investigators carrying a piece of debris recovered from the crashed plane