John Rees: Leader of educational cruises

Lives Remembered

To my knowledge there is a significant number of Independent readers who were11 to 17 years old between April 1962 and March 1982 who spent a 13-day educational cruise on one of four British India Steam Navigation Company's ships, Dunera, Devonia, Nevada and Uganda.

For many it was their first occasion away from home. Ship-schools gave them the opportunity of visiting foreign parts, and returning to the safety of ships' cafeterias and dormitories in the care of their own schoolteachers. More than a million pupils benefited.

Quite simply this would not have happened without the frenetic energy of BI's cruising manager, John Rees, and his colleagues. Week in, week out, from October 1961 until May 1970, Rees not only organised itineraries to Coruña, Gibraltar, Lisbon, Madeira, Tenerife, many Mediterranean ports, Bergen, Oslo, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Amsterdam, and Baltic ports including Leningrad; he also legged it round local education authority HQs, headmasters and schools, persuading them – with a combination of tact, charm and the convincing authority of a merchant marine navigating officer – to send parties of pupils on cruises with a serious educational content.

After 1970, along with Michael Wheeler, Rees set up New World Educational Cruises for BI, successfully recruiting Canadian high school groups to fly to Europe to join Nevada and Uganda. This involved crossing the Atlantic 88 times in a decade.

Daniel John Gilbert Rees, merchant navy officer and shipping line executive: born Pembroke 14 December 1932; married Eunice Dowling (four sons); died Chappel, Essex 13 December 2011.

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