Obituary: Daryl Williamson
Daryl Williamson, former commercial development director at Lloyd’s List Intelligence and a member of the Lloyd’s List Editorial Board, has died
One of the pioneers of maritime data digitalisation, Daryl had to battle against early scepticism about the internet as he spearheaded work to convert hard copy directories into electronic format, and became established as a world expert on vessel and ownership risk-profiling systems during a 30-year career with Lloyd’s List Intelligence
DARYL Williamson, a pioneer of maritime data digitalisation and the architect of Lloyd’s List Intelligence’s Seasearcher service, has died.
He had retired from Informa, the former owner of Lloyd’s List and Lloyd’s List Intelligence, in February 2020 after more than 30 years with the company. During that time, he held a variety of technical and business roles, culminating in commercial development director for Lloyd’s List Intelligence.
After retirement, he remained involved in the industry and was an active and supportive member of the Lloyd’s List Editorial Board, a panel of industry experts that provides the editorial team with feedback, guidance and oversight. He also had many other interests that he continued to pursue.
Daryl was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May and had started chemotherapy, but still enjoyed long walks, cycling and kayaking. He stayed positive about the outcome of his treatment and appeared to be making good progress. Sadly, he passed away last week, surrounded by his family, on his 43rd wedding anniversary. He was 69.
Genuinely well-liked, trusted and respected in equal measure throughout the industry, he was a pioneer in the early development of highly sensitive vessel and ownership risk profiling systems used extensively by governments and law enforcement agencies globally.
Always cheerful and with a ready smile, he is remembered as someone who remained upbeat and good tempered, however trying the circumstances.
That patience was put to the test in the early days of computers when there was plenty of scepticism within the tradition-bound shipping industry about the likelihood of hard copy shipping directories such as Lloyd’s Register of Ships or the Lloyd’s Shipping Index ever being converted into an electronic format.
However, Daryl spotted the potential for digitalisation when the internet was still in its infancy, joining Lloyd’s Maritime Information Service in 1990 with responsibility for developing software tools for the global maritime community.
He was instrumental in ensuring Lloyd’s List Intelligence’s mainframe systems were internet ready prior to the commercial acceptance of the world wide web.
Back in the late 1980s and 1990s, LMIS was a joint venture between the class society Lloyd’s Register, and Lloyd’s of London Press, which published Lloyd’s List and other maritime publications. The goal of both organisations was to provide paperless market data, and Daryl was in charge of planning and implementing the introduction of LMIS’s IT systems, finally being appointed its managing director.
In the years that followed, the agreement with Lloyd’s Register was eventually terminated. LLP was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1998, and then merged with IBC Group to form Informa. Around the same time, Seasearcher, the online version of Lloyd’s Shipping Index, was launched and remains a popular shipping tool, providing characteristics, movements and risk & compliance data on the global ship fleet.
Lloyd’s List Intelligence and Lloyd’s List were bought by the private equity firm Montagu earlier this year as the maritime industry, including data providers and the trade press, continue to evolve and consolidate.
Daryl, with his early recognition of how the internet would revolutionise the business world, was one of those early pioneers who helped bring shipping into the digital age.
Yet throughout, he managed to keep a sense of proportion, and retired with his integrity and reputation intact.
“In the 30 years I worked with him, he never uttered a cross word, even though he was often under a lot of pressure,” one friend and colleague remembers. Even among competitors, “he was highly respected and retained many friendships, despite commercial rivalries.”
"Daryl was a committed and exceptional colleague and a popular member of the team during his many years with Lloyd's List Intelligence. His enthusiasm was infectious, and he always put a smile on your face with his jovial nature," said Lloyd's List Intelligence chief executive Michael Dell.
"He will be sorely missed by me and the entire team."
Daryl was born in Poplar, east London, and lived in Catford and Barkingside before moving in the early 1960s to the riverside village of Wivenhoe in Essex. It was there that he learned to sail and fish, and to where he returned after getting married.
He attended Colchester Royal Grammar School and then gained a degree in chemistry from Hull University in 1975 before joining the high street chain WHSmith as a graduate IT trainee, later becoming the company’s database manager.
Daryl met his wife Deb while working there, and they had three children Melanie, Hannah and Sam, plus four grandchildren, Alfie, Archie, Albie and Bonnie.
As well as outdoor activities, Daryl also enjoyed geocaching, the worldwide treasure hunt game. A keen musician in his youth, he was the bass guitarist in several rock bands, and continued to attend gigs with his children. He was also an accomplished magician and would often find a way to weave a magic trick into the conversation.
He and Deb loved to travel and explore the world, with the Greek islands a particular favourite.
On retirement, he did volunteer work within the community and was also a founding member of Wivenhoe Anti-Racist Group. Other interests included mentoring young students looking for guidance during their final year of college.
After leaving Informa, Daryl continued his work with big data visualisation, and maritime risk profiling, and was in demand as a keynote speaker.
“An incredible man who brought out the best in everyone he met” is how his family and friends remember Daryl.
Daryl’s funeral will be held at Colchester Crematorium on August 24. The service will start at 11:45.
Lloyd's List is inviting tributes to Daryl to be passed to friends and family - LloydsList-Editorial@lloydslistintelligence.com