Friends, former colleagues, and the family of Jim Davis packed the historic All Hallows by the Tower church on Tuesday to celebrate the life of the charismatic London shipping figure.
Davis died in March last year at the age of 92, but a memorial service had to be delayed due to Covid restrictions.
Tributes were led by Sir John Parker — himself a British shipping institution — and former Braemar head Alan Marsh, in the service in one of London’s oldest churches which has strong maritime links.
Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok sent a personal message to Davis’ widow Hanny calling him a “loyal and sympathetic friend” who was always “great company”.
Hanny was accompanied by their daughters Mariske, Charlotte and Katrina, who has followed in Davis’ footsteps with insurance broker Arthur J Gallagher.
Davis was best known for the 30 years he spent as chairman and driving force of the International Maritime Industries Forum (IMIF), a network of shipping and finance figures.
The IMIF’s annual conference and dinner became a stage for Davis’ notoriously risqué humour and his urging owners to scrap rather than build ships, earning him the affectionate nickname ‘Scrapper Jim’.
Sir John was working for Harland & Wolff shipyard in Northern Island when he first met Davis in the 1960s when Davis was starting out with P&O.
From the start, Davis became the first and only person to refer to him warmly as ‘Johnny’, recalled Sir John. “And he continued to call me Johnny for the next sixty years!”
While Davis’ passion for ships took him later to start a new career as a shipping banker at Kleinwort Benson, it was love of his family and warmth to friends and colleagues that left a deep legacy.
Among the many shipping figures present were former Lord Mayor, Lord Mountevans, Robert Woods, Roger Holt, Martin Stopford, Harry Theochari, Michael Grey, and Peter Cowling.