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  OBITUARY  

December 22 - 29 , 2000

 

 Coastweek   Kenya


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CAPTAIN Richard Aldrick

'SHIPPING HAD ALWAYS BEEN HIS LIFE'

Coastweek - - Captain Richard G. Aldrick, who died on 22 October aged 56, was a director of Seaforth Shipping Kenya Ltd.

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 shipping man.

Ask any of his peers and they would agree that no one knew Mombasa port as he did.

He lived and breathed its problems.

Coastweek - - Captain Richard G. Aldrick.

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 it.

Shipping had always been his life.

At 17 he left home to join the Merchant Navy, cheating the eye test to pass the recruitment procedure.

The work was hard but fun.

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 beckoned.

At 28 he captained his first vessel, having received his Masters Certificate the previous year.

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, arrived.

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 candid opinions.

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 dis-rupted.

A lucky windfall in the UK football pools in 1990 helped fund one term's fees as he found his feet.

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 shot.

He could also be immensely generous and beneath his sometimes fearsome exterior lay a soft heart.

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 otherwise.

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, nevertheless.

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.

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