St Andrews graduate among six killed in Australian plane crash

Edward Cousins graduated from the University of St Andrews in June 2017 with a History degree and had been president of the MMA Club.

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Photo: Alex Brinkman

Recent St Andrews graduate Edward Cousins, 23, was among six killed after a sightseeing plane crashed in Australia’s Hawkesbury River on 31 December 2017.

Cousins and his family were flying back to Sydney’s Rose Bay, close to Sydney Harbour, after dining at a waterfront restaurant in Jerusalem Bay. The family was traveling from Tooting in South London.

The plane belonged to Sydney Seaplanes, a sightseeing tour firm. The crash occurred at 15:10 local time in the Hawkesbury River, about 3 kilometers from the restaurant they departed from and 50 km north of Sydney.

Edward, more commonly known as Ed, graduated from the University of St Andrews in June 2017 with a History degree. While attending St Andrews, he was president of the Mixed Martial Arts Club, or MMA.

Alex Brinkman of the University’s MMA Club spoke about her friend in a statement.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I write to tell you of the passing of our beloved President and dear friend to us all, Ed Cousins. It goes without saying that Ed’s sense of humour and bright personality made training in MMA that much better. He truly embodied what it means to be a martial artist. His love of the sport and desire to make our club the best possible made him one of the best people to train with and a fabulous friend. He will be missed.”

The other five victims of the crash include William, his brother, Richard, his father, Emma Bowden, fiancée to Mr Richard Cousins, Ms Emma Bowden’s daughter, Heather, and the pilot, Gareth Morgan.

Mr Richard Cousins, 58, was the chief executive of Compass Group, one of the world’s largest catering companies. Mr Cousins had been chief executive of the company since 2006 and was set to retire in March 2018. He was listed on Harvard Business Review’s 100 Best Performing CEOs in the World at number 11.

Paul Walsh, the Compass Group Chairman, spoke of the loss of Mr Richard Cousins in a company statement.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible news. The thoughts of everyone at Compass are with Richard’s family and friends, and we extend our deepest sympathies to them. 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.”

Mr Cousins had lost his first wife to cancer three years ago, and he and his fiancée, Ms Bowden, were planning on marrying in June 2018. His two sons, William and Edward, would be best men together, while her daughter, Heather, 11, would be a bridesmaid.

Ms Emma Bowden, 48, was arts editor at OK! Magazine and had worked at the magazine for 15 years.

The magazine’s official Twitter account posted of Ms Emma Bowden on 1 January 2018.

“All the staff at OK! magazine are deeply shocked and saddened to hear about this terrible tragedy. We would like to extend our heartfelt sympathy to all Emma’s family and friends. Emma was a popular and long-standing member of staff at OK! and she’ll be greatly missed by us all.”

William, 25, was a campaigner against a hard Brexit and was head of press for Open Britain.

Roland Rudd, Chairman of Open Britain, spoke of William, or Will as he was known, in an official statement.

“All of us at Open Britain are devastated by the tragic loss of Will and his family. Will was an extraordinary young man who was passionate about what he did; who took deep pride in his work; and came into the office every day with enthusiasm, energy and determination. Will saw his role at Open Britain as more than a job. For him, it was a cause akin to a crusade to stop Britain crashing out of the EU with no deal or a bad deal. Will was a great team player who loved the camaraderie of our young team and developed close relationships with all his colleagues. He will be missed beyond words.”

Sydney Seaplanes spoke of Mr Gareth Morgan, 44, as an experienced pilot, who flew more than 10,000 hours in the air and 9,000 in a seaplane.

The plane crash involved a single-engine DHC-2 Beaver Seaplane, and the engine in the plane, a 1964 model, had only flown 200 hours before the crash.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, or ATSB, said the series of events preceding the accident was not yet known. Police are unaware if a mayday call was made before the plane crashed.

The plane belonged to Sydney Seaplanes, a sightseeing flight company that offers scenic flights around local tourist attractions.

The company also flies over Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and Pittwater. Previously, Sydney Seaplanes has flown such celebrities as singer Ed Sheeran and Pippa Middleton and her husband, James Matthews, on their honeymoon. The company has since suspended all flights.

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