Seaplane crash victim was Sheffield University graduate

A man who died with his family in a seaplane crash in Sydney on Christmas Eve was a University of Sheffield graduate.

Richard Cousins
Richard Cousins

Richard Cousins, aged 58, died alongside his sons Will and Edward, 25 and 23, his fiancee Emma Bowden, 48, and her 11-year-old daughter Heather while they were on holiday in Australia.

They were on a return flight to Sydney's Rose Bay, close to Sydney Harbour, when the small aircraft they were onboard nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River, 25 miles north of Sydney city centre, at about 3.10pm on Sunday.

Pilot Gareth Morgan, 44, also died in the crash.

Friends and colleagues described Mr Cousins as a 'well known and respected' businessman who helped turn around the fortunes of catering firm Compass after becoming its chief executive in 2006.

Mr Cousins, who lived with his family in Tooting, south-west London, graduated from the University of Sheffield with a maths degree.

Paul Walsh, Compass 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 no-nonsense style that transformed Compass into one of Britain's leading companies."

Investigators with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said the aircraft is thought to have 'sunk rapidly' upon impact.

The bodies of all those on board have since been recovered.

Detective Superintendent Mark Hutchings, said the crash 'can only be described as a tragic accident'.

He added: "These people had come over on holiday to one of the most beautiful parts of the world, and for this to happen at a place like this is just tragic."

President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, Sir Keith Burnett, said “I am deeply sorry to learn of the tragic death of Richard with his sons Edward and William, his fiancée Emma and her daughter Heather as well as the pilot of the seaplane.

"I met Richard on many occasions and it was obvious how proud he was to be a graduate of this university. As one of the world's most respected CEOs, he achieved a great deal in business and I personally feel a deep gratitude for the advice he gave me about leading a team of talented people and the vital importance of nurturing new ideas, but he was also a very warm and grounded person who won the respect and friendship of those who knew him."