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  OBITUARY  

September 06 - 12, 1991

 

 Coastweek   Kenya


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DAN TRENCH

A PIONEER OF THE KENYA SOUTH COAST TOUR INDUSTRY
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Coastweek - - Saint Stephen's Inter-Denominational Chapel in the grounds of Africana Sea Lodge was on August 16, 1991, packed with friends of all races and from all walks of life for the 'Thanksgiving Service' for the Life of Daniel Power le Poer Trench - one of the early pioneers of Kenya’s hotel industry.

Born in Nyeri in 1919 he died on July 4, 1991 after living at Jadini, Diani, for most of his life.

He leaves three children - Ian, Chris and Sarah, and four grand children.

It was his parents Maxie and Nelly Poer, Trench who in the thirties started Jadini - the only other, hotel at Diane then being ‘Two Fishes’.

Around Jadini in those days was a most ‘fantastic forest’ in which roamed lions, buffalo, leopard, several species of buck and colobus monkeys.

Jadini was sold to a Mr. Robinson in 1969 and bought by Alliance Hotels in 1970.

It marked the start of what was to become a most successful hotel group which presently also embraces:

Africana Sea Lodge; Safari Beach Hotel, Diani, and Naro Moro River Lodge in the foothills of Mount Kenya.

It also manages Tropical Village, Malindi. 

Coastweek -- Dan Trench seen at his house on Jadini Beach - a beautiful part of Kenya‘s south coast, which he greatly loved and where he spent most of his life.

Since 1970 Jadini Beach Hotel has boasted one of the highest bed occupancy rates at the coast and has continued to grow both in size and popularity with Dan taking a keen interest in all developments there, particularly in its recent Shs. 60 million face lift.

He died just a few weeks before its completion.

Since 1970 Jadini has grown from 60 to 344 beds.

Its popularity in its early days led Alliance Hotels to purchase adjacent land once belonging to the Le Poer Trench family and other residents to build the 316 bed Africana Sea Lodge which opened in 1978.

Alliance Hotels also built a chapel in its grounds dedicating it to the memory of Maxie and Nelly le Poer Trench founders of Jadini Hotel’.

Maxie and Nelly died one year after each other in 1968 and 1969, their ashes being scattered around this area which they so greatly loved.

After the ‘Thanksgiving Service' for Dan Trench on August 16, a second plaque was unveiled on the chapel door reading 'in memory of Daniel P. le Poer Trench 1919-1991, late of Jadini’.

Afterwards his ashes were taken by the family in a boat to be ‘committed to the sea beyond the reef and off Jadini Beach Hotel’.

‘Jadini' stems from the names of Maxie and Nelly’s three children - Jack, Ann and Dan.

Among the family members at the service were Mrs. Sarah Moller (daughter) and Karen, three years, from Nairobi; Jack Trench (brother) and his wife, Dorothy; Mrs. Nancy Wise (Sarah’s mother and Dan’s sister); Chris Trench (son) and Kathleen Bonham (cousin).
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Coastweek -- Family members seen at the ‘Thanksgiving Service for the
Life of Dan Trench’ included his daughter Mrs Sarah Moller
[left] and Karen,
3; his brother Jack Trench and his wife Dorothy; Sarah‘s mother and Dan’s
sister Mrs Nancy Wise, his son Chris Trench and cousin Kathleen Bonham.

Others present included Dan’s great friends Omari Ali, fisherman and his wife, Mwanapwani and daughter, also Kombo Said, gardener at his camp site, also management and staff of Alliance Hotels and Nomads, and many friends.

The service was conducted by the Missions to Seamen Chaplain Richard Diamond, from ‘Mombasa, the organist being Mick White, one of the songs being the ‘Amazing Grace’ Said the Chaplain this service is to focus on Dan and to remember him for it is now time to close the final chapter of his life’.

An 'Eulogy for a Friend’ was delivered by Ken Martin who said that Dan will be remembered for many things:

among them being his boasting of being the second European to have been born in Nyeri;

as a soldier guarding Sagana Bridge and

as a motorist in his beloved and ancient pickup being driven at a speed of nearly 30 mph and yelling at the driver 'you will kill us all’!

Continuing Ken Martin said 'he was a natural naturist, a bushman and had a life long interest in aviation.

Dan took a very active part in the laying out and sitting of the airstrip at Ukunda - known to many of his friends as ‘the Dan Trench International Airport’ !

As a raconteur he was quite remarkable in the way he could enthral people for hours.

He was also always a gentleman rising when a lady entered a room and offering her a seat.

Declared Ken Martin ‘Dan is a part of Kenya’s history’.

He went on to reveal that the family had received a letter from Dan’s earliest competitors in the, hotel industry - Alan and Beth Fish formerly of ‘Two Fishes Hotel’ who now live at Somerset West, South Africa.

In it they referred to the true friendship they had received from Dan in the early days of their hotel.

They recalled ‘when Alan was ill it was Dan who looked after the bar for him, and when Beth was ill he sent over an ayah and servants to help’.

He had assisted in many ways including successfully dealing with visiting cobras!

The letter ended ‘Dan will go down in our memories as one of the most unforgettable characters we have ever met’.

After the Thanksgiving Service, tea was provided by Alliance Hotels with Chris and his family later hosting drinks at the nearby Nomads Beach Bar.

Dan was educated at Loreto Convent; Kenton and Prince of Wales School, Kenya, then returning to Seremai their coffee farm at Nyeri.

When war broke out he joined the Supplies and Transport Division of KAR being discharged in the mid-forties having been seriously ill with cerebral malaria.

In the late forties he went to Jadini to help his parents, run the hotel, which he later managed until it was sold to Mr. Robinson in 1969.

Since then Dan lived at a nearby camp site until he died.

In an interview, Mrs. Nancy (Ann) Wise, Dan’s sister, said ‘my father came to Kenya’ in 1914 as a coffee advisor from the British Government.

My mother and I followed early 1915 after spending Christmas in the UK’.

In 1923 we were one of the first families to come to the coast for a holiday, taking over a house which belonged to a CMS missionary at Freretown, Mombasa.

These holidays continued until we went to school.

In 1934 my uncle found a plot next to Jadini and thus introduced us to Diani Beach.

It was beautiful and had a most fantastic forest.

We bought the plot next door soon after.

We had to hack our way through the bush to get there and our holiday house had three rooms and a verandah with two changing rooms for boys and girls Many friends came to stay.

Said Nancy if we did not have room for them my mother used to say go and chop some coconut palm and we will make a place for you to sleep’.

The family acquired other land and their holiday house named ‘Jadini’ grew as it attracted guests not only from Kenya but the UK and South Africa many of whom would book a particular cottage a year ahead.

Nancy mentioned that one day she had been sitting on the verandah about two in the morning, it being too hot to sleep, and happened to see a dark shape approach.

She asked whose dog is that’.

Said Nancy, as it walked passed me I realized it was a leopard!

Water was a big problem, which they helped solve themselves by building a garage-cum-store with a corrugated iron roof.

They dug a well and this became their water catchment area.

Initially buckets of water were having to be carried to the hotel.

Later it was piped.

Said Nancy 'my mother was among the first to put up a big fight to get a water supply from Kwale to this area’.

At that time there was only a narrow sandy track between Jadini and Likoni and if anything approached one or other vehicle had to get out of the way.

Motorised ferries at Likoni could only take four big cars and six small ones at a time.

Today, the main road to Mombasa is very busy throughout the day with many ‘mini’ buses, coaches, matatus, cars and lorries.

Said Nancy ‘one day I saw a young buck trying to cross it and getting desperate in his attempts to do so’.

She said ‘I drew my car right across the main road.

Drivers hooted, but when they saw this little buck trot across in front of my car they all clapped and said 'Mzuri Sana'.

Asked for her comments about Jadini, Nancy said 'it has grown very well.

It is a most attractive hotel and very well planned'.

Major developments at Jadini were in the hands of one of Kenya’s top architects, Trzebinski, Gaal and Associates who were also responsible for the design of Africana Sea Lodge and Safari Beach Hotel.

Such is the development of the hotel industry on Kenya’s south coast mainland but today it has around 20 hotels and lodges, with five more planned offering between them a further 1500 beds.

 - Coastweek correspondent Neta Peal, Mombasa.

 

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