Merseyside and UK maritime leaders pay tribute to former chief executive of Mersey Maritime and industry ‘legend’ Jim Teasdale, who has died aged 75. Tony McDonough reports
Mersey Maritime founder and industry ‘legend’ Jim Teasdale has died aged 75 after a long illness.
Jim retired as chief executive of the maritime cluster organisation in October 2015. He was a founding director of Birkenhead-based Mersey Maritime in 2003 and became its chief executive in 2004.
He was previously chief executive of the Laird Foundation, now known as the Engineering College. Bringing together industry with academia he laid the groundwork for the creation of what is now seen as one of the most successful maritime clusters in Europe.
Liverpool city region is once again a maritime powerhouse, worth £5bn a year and employing almost 50,000 people. A former teacher, Jim grew up in the North East of England. He was a proud father and grandfather.
Mersey Maritime chief executive Ruth Wood, speaking on behalf of the board and the team, said: “The Mersey Maritime board and team are deeply saddened to hear of the recent passing of our former CEO, Jim Teasdale.
“Jim was a founder director of Mersey Maritime before becoming CEO. As such he played a crucial role in laying the foundations of Mersey Maritime and bringing together the maritime sector across Liverpool city region.
“His positivity and impact to the maritime community, will be felt for many years to come. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.”
In 1998, Jim established the Engineering College in the shadow of Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead. Since then the college has trained more than 10,000 people, helping them to embark on careers in engineering and maritime.
Following the establishment of Mersey Maritime the two entities worked as a single organisation. They separated in 2016 but the link between the two remains strong.
Engineering College chief executive, Terry Weston, spoke on Monday of his “great sadness and regret” at Jim’s passing.
He said: “Jim set up the Engineering College (then known as Laird Foundation), in 1998 with the support of Wirral Council and the then chief executive of Cammell Laird, John Syvret.
“Without doubt there are many locally born engineers and business leaders who were able to start their careers in industry as a direct result of Jim’s foresight and influence.
“Jim always maintained an obvious passion for education and employment prospects for the young people across Liverpool city region. Even in retirement Jim continued to support the college and maintained his many friendships with the staff and board… We will all miss him dearly.”
Chris Shirling-Rooke, who took over as chief executive of Mersey Maritime on Jim’s retirement, also paid tribute. The now chief executive of Maritime UK said: “I am incredibly sad to see the news that my former CEO at Mersey Maritime, Jim Teasdale, has passed away.
“A mentor to me and many others Jim’s leadership and wisdom will be greatly missed. Jim was a staunch maritime champion with a focus on increasing the much needed industry skills base, a legacy that will continue to create jobs and drive growth for years to come.
“My heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.”
Jim’s passing is felt keenly across the whole maritime sector but he leaves a powerful legacy.
When he retired in 2015 he said: “From the very start we knew that we had set ourselves a lifetime commitment – to bring the interests of the sector on Merseyside together and speak on its behalf with one voice.
“We’ve made real and tangible progress, with the Liverpool cluster now recognised nationally and internationally as an example of best practice.”