Roger Heape obituary

·2 min read

My brother-in-law Roger Heape, who has died aged 75, was, from his position as managing director of BA Holidays, a prominent advocate of responsible tourism, which to him meant respect not just for the environment but for the economy of tourist regions and the legitimate rights of both native peoples and tourists themselves. He was instrumental in creating the Travel Foundation in 2003, and chaired it in 2008-09. In 1998 he received the Observer editor’s award for his activity in this field.

Outside work, he was an active Liberal Democrat and contributed enthusiastically to the prominence of the party in Richmond and Winchester – Lib Dem strongholds where, by coincidence or not, Roger and his family lived. He was pressed, at times, to become a parliamentary candidate but resisted this commitment.

The son of Eric Heape, who worked at Lloyds Bank, and his wife, Joan (nee Philips), Roger was born and brought up in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, attending the local grammar school, before going on to read geography at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

On graduation he entered the travel industry, at British European Airways, which later evolved into British Airways, and over the next 30 years he flew full circle through appointments at Inghams, Thomson and Intasun to end back at BA, heading its holidays division for a decade until his retirement in 2000. He was at the forefront of ecological concerns, which he was able, through a combination of tact and presence, to carry into the thinking of his employer and the tourist industry at large.

At two metres tall, and lean, Roger could be conspicuous at leisure when striding across heaths and moorlands, especially in his beloved Dorset. After retirement he served for a while as one of the 12 members of the New Forest National Park Authority. His opportunities for travel led him to many more adventurous destinations, up Kilimanjaro, into the Himalayas and, in his last great adventure, the Greenland ice cap. Never deterred by the weather, he revelled in extreme conditions, and relished any record-breaking statistics. In retirement, he studied oceanography at Southampton University, and was proud to have an academic paper published.

Much earlier, his adventurous nature saw him successful in a vigorous pursuit of the love of his life, Jenny Dennis, whom he married in 1971. He encouraged similar attitudes in their children, Suzy and James, to whom he was devoted. Indeed, he was devoted to people, to friendship, to treating all with more than simple respect, and this accounts for the popularity he achieved wherever he worked and wandered. One more thing: as a child of the 60s, he knew how to let his hair down, through a love of hard rock music, especially the Stones.

He is survived by Jenny, Suzy and James, two grandchildren, Ryan and Luther, and his twin sister, Christine.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting