Richard Bokszczanin – Retirement

A personal note from  Chris Else, CEO of MECO Group

 

Friday 29 March marked Richard Bokszczanin’s last day at the MECO Group. I well remember his first, but that was over 20 years ago.

I could roll out the usual platitudes and clichéd statements about a well-earned retirement, there would be much resonance, but it wouldn’t do justice to a man who has given so much to this company and is part of our fabric.

Instead I’m going to recall a short story, a factual and historical one, about a remarkable man, Captain Frank Worsley. He was the subject of a biography published in 2010, ‘Shackleton’s Captain’, that has subsequently been released as a film. Worsley, a New Zealander by birth, was carefully selected by the famous English Explorer, Ernest Shackleton, to be the Captain of his ship, ‘Endurance’

On an expedition to the frozen wastes of Antarctica, ‘Endurance’ became stuck fast in the ice. Her crew was forced to set up a makeshift camp on the ice and watch helplessly, as she was slowly crushed before finally sinking in front of them. Remember that this was in 1915, so we can safely assume that the AIS, GPS, Inmarsat connection etc. had not yet been fitted!

The sinking of ‘Endurance’ was just the beginning of an amazing story of survival; of which the unsung hero, until recently, was Capt Frank Worsley and his trusted sextant. After achieving the feat of getting the entire crew to Elephant Island it was decided that the only chance of rescue was from the whaling station on the tiny island of South Georgia; some 800 miles distant across ferociously stormy seas.

Leaving the rest of the crew on the relative safety of Elephant Island, Shackleton, Worsley and 4 others, set sail for South Georgia, in one of the lifeboats, the ‘James Caird’.  Worsley was forced to navigate this miniscule wooden boat in the most appalling conditions, permanently soaked, cold and being tossed around like a cork in constantly tempestuous seas.  That he managed to land the ‘James Caird’, and her crew of 6, safely on the pinprick that is South Georgia, armed only with a sextant, is a feat of skill and endurance that’s difficult to comprehend from the technological comfort of our 21st Century lives. The entire crew was subsequently rescued and not a single life was lost.

Our own expedition is not so epic, and thankfully less imperilled; no book or film is currently planned. Nonetheless Richard has been our bedrock, a seafarer also skilled in the use of the sextant; who has helped navigate us to where we are today. I would like to pay tribute to our own ‘Captain Frank Worsley’, as he takes our leave for a justly deserved retirement with his wife Elizabeth.

 

Chris Else

Dubai, March 2019