Tributes pour in for ‘dedicated family man’ who died in mountain fall

Tonkin and Taylor engineering geologist, Richard Phillips, died in a fall on Taranaki Maunga on May 4. 

Tonkin and Taylor engineering geologist, Richard Phillips, died in a fall on Taranaki Maunga on May 4. - Credit: Stewart Phillips

The family of a former Worle resident and experienced mountaineer who died in a fall on a dormant volcano in New Zealand have paid homage to a ‘dedicated family man’ and ‘loyal and loving friend’. 

Richard Phillips, aged 46, and his colleague Peter Kirkwood, aged 33, died shortly after reaching the summit of Taranaki Maunga on May 4. 

The pair, who lived in Christchurch in New Zealand, were employed by environmental and engineering consultancy company Tonkin and Taylor and had travelled to Taranaki for work, but ventured up the mountain for a recreational trip. 

Richards’ family, who still live in Weston, said he was a dedicated family man, leaving behind partner Jacqueline, who he met while travelling in Nepal in 1997, and their teenage daughters, Freya and Indy. 

The couple moved from the UK to New Zealand in 2008 and brought their daughters up to share their love of the outdoors. 


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Richard’s family said: “Rich was happiest in the hills with his family and his beloved dog, Betsy. 

Tonkin and Taylor engineering geologist, Richard Phillips, died in a fall on Taranaki Maunga on May 4. 

Tonkin and Taylor engineering geologist, Richard Phillips, died in a fall on Taranaki Maunga on May 4. - Credit: Stewart Phillips

“He was an experienced climber, hiker, mountain biker and scuba diver who was the sort of person who could turn his hand to anything and achieved his lifelong dream of having a hands-on role in building the family’s home on the Port Hills in Christchurch. 

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“He lived and was brought up in Worle, attending Hillside, St Martin's and Worle schools, before moving onto Broadoak sixth form then onto Manchester University. Richard was well-known in the local community and was also a member of the Weston Air Cadets (290 Squadron) and attended Officer Training Corp while at university. 

“He was a loyal and loving friend who would never fail to go the extra mile for anyone. He earned the respect and admiration of those he met at home, at work, on his travels and even on the side lines of his girls’ sporting events. 

“Although Richard paid the ultimate price for his love of the outdoors and his adventurous nature, it gave him so much pleasure. He had a fabulous life and will be remembered for his carefree manner and his absolute zest for life. 

“He was the foundation of his family, and they are devastated by his loss.” 

Richard’s family would also like to thank all of his friends who have been extremely supportive at this time - sharing fond memories which have brought comfort to them.

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