The tribute below was given by Paul Wagstaffe on behalf of the Boating Industry.
David and I met when we were both recruited in the late 1960’s by Tom Webb, the Highly Regarded Chief Executive, to join the Staff Team at The Ship and Boatbuilders National Federation (The Trade Association for the small ship and the Recreational Boating Industry).
Early in his career, David assisted Tom with the arrangements for an International Congress in Barcelona. Having prepared all the many Agenda Papers run offs on an old stencil machine, it was arranged that David would travel overland to carry the papers. Long before high speed trains, David travelled by multiple slow trains across the mountains carrying heavy bags full of the papers. The UK Delegates flew out to join him!
In later years, David became a UK Delegate and Board Member of the International Boat Show Organisation.
David expanded his horizons and helped may UK Exporters who have become world leaders in their boating markets including Sunseeker, Princess, Fairline, and major clothing and equipment manufacturers.
There was a saying that “EXPORTING WAS FUN”. David and his colleagues would confirm that there was a lot of hard work and persistence.
David transferred to National Boat Shows Ltd, a company owned by the Boating Industry and personally expanded the number of Shows run by the Company.
It was at Ipswich Boat Show where David was showing round the Local MP, John Gummer, now Baron Deben. The National Press were there as it was the time of the BSE Scare for contaminated meat: “Mad Cow Disease”. Much to David’s concern, Mr Gummer insisted that his own children should eat beef burgers from a Show vendor in front of the Press. The national coverage was good for the Show. Mr Gummer’s children survived. I understand that his son was, until last year, the MP for Ipswich. There were no visible effects of that hamburger.
David progressed to Managing Director of National Boat Shows Ltd and his responsibilities expanded to include the very successful Southampton International Boat Show which will celebrate its 50th year when opening on Friday.
There were always worries associated with the Boat Shows:
The London Boat Show was targeted by the IRA and over 20,000 people were successfully evacuated on a very busy Saturday before a bomb exploded in an exhibitor’s boat. Nobody was hurt.
David had to attend many stressful emergency meetings with the Police and Earls Court Management while the hall was searched after warning calls. Thankfully, there were no other major incidents.
The Show attracted many VIP visitors over the years. Morecambe and Wise opened the Show and performed on a stage on the pool.
Margaret Thatcher, as Prime Minister, was sent across the pool on a zip wire courtesy of the Royal Navy.
After the Falklands War, Len Tipper from the Daily Express, who arranged Boat Show Features, hung a Harrier Fighter and an Argentinian Pucara aircraft over the Pool. The Political Ripples spread far and wide – not just on the surface of the pool but underneath the aircraft.
On a lighter note, one year the Show featured high divers who dived from the roof into a very small tank. We were all worried that they might miss the tank. After a successful dive, one of them sprayed the TV presenter Anthea Turner with champagne. She insisted that David arrange for her suit to be dry cleaned. He never said what she wore while her suit went out to the Earls Court Road.
On more than one occasion, Government Ministers visiting the Boat Show in an age before mobile phones, were so engrossed in their visit that we were requested to put out tannoy messages asking them to return to their offices.
David and I were the only Director’s left on duty late on a Saturday afternoon at the Southampton Boat Show when we were rung to say that The Rt. Hon Edward Heath, a regular Boat Show visitor, was about to arrive. We welcomed him in a tented lounge overlooking the Show Marina. His detective warned us that he was not allowed to eat biscuits. We failed to gather up the plates quickly enough, and he ate his way around every plate.
In all these years, David was not diverted from golf into boating.
He successfully attracted industry personalities to the British Marine Golfing Society.
David was highly respected by the Members of the British Federation, the Boat Show Exhibitors and customers together with the Management of Earls Court, the Police, the City of Southampton and Associated British Ports.
He represented the UK at international meetings as a Director where the Worldwide Boating Industry benefitted from his knowledge and experience. A far cry from his first trip to the meeting in Barcelona preparing and carrying all the meeting papers.
I am proud to have known and worked with David as a colleague and a friend.