The following obituary was written by Andrew Mayer (FH 62-65) and John Kent (Sc 65-69)
Richard Ashby died peaceably at home on 14 May 2022 from a brain tumor, surrounded by his family.
Richard was a distinguished Chartered Surveyor, managing portfolios of mainly large commercial properties and becoming an expert in the arcane world of Landlord and Tenant law. It was while managing the property portfolio of the publishers Reed Elsevier that he first met Sam Sebba, the Managing Director of the property company Warnford Investments, when negotiating a renewal of Reed’s lease of their office headquarters building in Piccadilly. Sam was so impressed with Richard’s detailed knowledge of the law and his negotiating skills that, after completing the transaction, he invited Richard to lunch at Claridge’s when asked him to take over his MD role as he was about to retire. Richard ran Warnford for the next 17 years until his retirement in 2013.
Born in 1949, the family moved to Orpington where Richard went to Bickley Park prep school and then Tonbridge. A keen sportsman he rowed and played rugby for the school, but his real interest was rifle shooting, representing the school at Bisley. In those days, Community Service, designed to help run errands for those in need in the community, was an alternative to joining the CCF and Richard embraced this with enthusiasm. Always one to go that extra mile, after leaving Tonbridge Richard kept in contact with one of the elderly ladies, Miss Wheeler, until she died 40 years later.
After Tonbridge Richard read Mineral Engineering at Imperial College but, after a spell in a goldmine in South Africa, decided to make a career change and took a post-graduate course at the College of Estate Management (now part of Reading University). After a stint at Tarmac, he moved to run the property portfolio of the aluminium manufacturing company British Alcan, and from there he went to Reed.
While at British Alcan Richard and his wife Jane moved to Beaconsfield where they brought up their two children Claire and Mark, both of whom followed their father into the real estate profession. Richard was a DIY enthusiast with a particular expertise in plumbing. Family holidays were taken on the ski slopes and caravanning in France, often involving riding on a steam train.
Upon retirement Richard could indulge in his hobbies – he was a model railway enthusiast, the proud owner of a Royal blue 1932 Alvis and a keen bridge player. He was appointed a Governor of Wycombe Abbey School putting his property knowledge to use in building two boarding houses. A keen churchgoer, he also helped his local church with their building matters, particularly the renewal of the lighting throughout the church.
He and Jane also bought a house in France which Richard lovingly renovated. Realising that building materials could be sourced more cheaply in the UK he would drive down to Bordeaux with things he needed. On one occasion he even had a dishwasher strapped to the roof!
Richard was a devoted family man and particularly enjoyed taking his growing family, by then including five grandchildren, on holidays to Africa, leaving memories with them all which will last forever.