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‘He was one of those people you meet and never forget’ – a passenger’s tribute to Captain Rodney Young MBE

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Tina Wagner, a past passenger on the RMS St Helena, heard the news of Captain Rodney Young’s death at her home in Germany and wrote the following tribute. 

For Captain Rodney.

When we set eyes on him for the first time, in May 2005 in Walvis Bay, Namibia, the captain of the ship of our dreams made us smile.

A short, plump man with jowls and features we’d never seen before – as we had never consciously seen a Saint Helenian.

It didn’t take us long to realise that the captain was no laughing stock at all. He appeared very sober and very authoritative, commanding – sine qua non for a master, obviously.
But we could also see his great sense of humour.

Eight years later, in November 2013, we returned aboard the RMS St Helena for Voyage 200 to Tristan da Cunha. We were full of joy when we learned that Captain Young was her master again. It was like a circle closing.

Again, we had three weeks to observe, and we liked him better and better.

He and I became Facebook friends after our return to Germany. I never thought that he would accept my request, as I was just one of countless passengers he met in his career. He was one of those “friends” you never wanted to miss a post from. They were rare, but always funny and/or interesting – those status updates that made you laugh, dry and matter-of-fact as they were.

We went to London in June 2016 to be with our beloved ship when she made her big appearance on the Thames. We spotted him at once, taking pictures from the bridge deck.

After the RMS was moored alongside HMS Belfast and we had walked the full circle to take pictures from all angles, I heard my name being called from the crowd at Tower Millenium Pier, and there he was, with his friends and his lovely wife Jill, waving to me and even hugging me – a passenger he only met twice within eleven years. I even remember the scent he left on my cheek.

For me, for us, he was one of those people you meet and never forget, those acquaintances that make your life worth living, those people you want to find when you are travelling.

So many words, but never enough. This morning I learned that he has died, just days before his 54th birthday, just four years my senior.

The world keeps turning, but Roddy (as we referred to him between us) is dead. A light has gone from our lives – no emotive talk, but a true feeling.

Roddy – I wish you that the ocean beyond is a little bit choppy, as I don’t think you’re the one for the very calm seas. We will always love you.

Tina, Jan and the Plums (Babu and Bua – fellow passengers), and without doubt “Lena”, our RMS.

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