Tim Webb, the head of tankers for shipbroker BRS and indefatigable charity champion, has died after a fight with cancer.

Webb, a 40-year-shipping veteran, was the driving force behind the annual Cargo Day that launched in 2016 and united the industry to raise money for the Mercy Ships charity.

“He was probably the most selfless broker I have met in my life,” Mercy Ships executive director Bryce Wagner said. “He was all about other people.

“He started Cargo Day and we are now over $9m. That was really down to Tim.”

The charity operates two medical ships in Africa. Webb became an energetic advocate of the charity after visiting the vessels and seeing the work of volunteer medics on board.

He got involved when BRS worked with the Lausanne-based charity on a newbuilding contract for the 36,600-gt Global Mercy (built 2021), the world’s largest civilian hospital ship.

Webb persuaded colleagues and rivals to join the cause and developed a system of committees in major shipping centres to promote its work.

He signed off his successful seven-year stewardship of the charity’s committee in Geneva last year by proposing to his long-term partner, Coco Conte, in front of 420 industry players at a fundraising gala.

“I’ve had 40 years in the most amazing business you can imagine,” Webb told TradeWinds at the event in September. “I’m incredibly proud and honoured to be part of an industry where there’s so much emotion.”

Webb, who was undergoing chemotherapy, said last year that he was stepping back to let a new generation of shipping players take over.

BRS chairman Francois Cadiou said the “formidable broker” had confronted his illness with courage and dignity.

“I want to pay tribute to you, my Tim, for everything you did for BRS, for your vitality, your audacity, your generosity, for your charisma, for all our verbal fights, for your unwavering friendship and even for your bloody English humour!” he wrote on LinkedIn.

Webb’s work as head of the Geneva committee was taken over by David Walker, head of chartering at Sahara Group.

Tim Webb in 2016 on a visit to the 16,100-gt hospital ship Africa Mercy (built 1980). Photo: Geoff Garfield

Walker said he had known Webb for 25 years and he was an “unbelievable human being”.

He said: “It was his dedication. How he grew Mercy Ships Cargo Day to what it has become over the last eight years shows just what kind of selfless person he was and how big a heart he has.

“He has left a big gap and will be sorely missed. I know deep down that I’ll hear his voice pushing every day to make sure we keep his legacy of Cargo Day growing bigger than ever.”

Industry tributes were heartfelt.

Scorpio Tankers chief commercial officer Lars Dencker Nielsen described Webb’s death as a “huge loss”.

“Tim was a very special person and a beloved friend who made a huge difference not only in shipping but the work he did for Mercy Ships,” Dencker Nielsen added.

“He was the father of Cargo Day and without his guidance, leadership and vision it would never have left the ground.

“He was the best our business could show for itself — a gentleman always with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. A big heart in just the right place cajoling all of us otherwise always too busy to do the right thing for the forgotten poor. He will be remembered fondly.”

Incredible compassion

Tim Webb (third right) doing what he did well and getting the industry involved with charity Mercy Ships. Photo: Geoff Garfield

Clarksons’ chief operating officer of broking, Bob Knight, said: “So many people will be saddened by the passing of Tim. He was a truly wonderful person. I was privileged and honoured to know him.

“From a personal perspective, I admire him most for his incredible compassion.

“He sweet-talked the industry to embrace Mercy Ships, which was no small undertaking at the time. A great broker but an even greater man.

“RIP Tim, you have left an incredible legacy and you will be missed by all who knew you.”

Vitol’s Ian Butler said: “I knew and admired him through Cargo Day and the Mercy Ships charity and his drive to engage brokers and charterers to donate commissions one day a year. He pushed tirelessly for it and brought the committee to London and overseas.”

Tanker broker David Collins said of Webb: “Not only was he genuinely beloved in the industry, but he truly was the architect of all things Mercy Ships in our business.

“Much credit for all the amazing work he has done and getting others involved with the charity, but also credit for making BRS what it is today.”