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Kimberley Richards with brother Ben and mother Jan

Sister Mourns Brother Who Wanted to Swim Home

Tuesday, December 1, 2009
THE SISTER of a man who drowned off Phuket at the weekend made a desperate attempt to fly from Australia to reach him, but arrived a day too late. By then, Ben Richards had walked into the sea.

Kimberley Richards, aged 34, believes that her brother Ben, younger by three years, was confused and needed help. After he went missing, his friends on Phuket held a meeting to try to work out where he might have gone. By then, tragically, Ben was dead.

''Ben was an amazing person,'' Kimberely told Phuketwan as she awaited the arrival of her mother Jan from Australia and organised a temple ceremony for Ben on Friday.

''He had a very active and intelligent mind and a brilliant sense of humor.''

Among his wide circle of friends on Phuket was Chairat Sukban, Deputy Mayor of Patong. ''We talked often,'' Khun Chairat said. ''I will miss him.''

Kimberley said: ''Ben was always talking about ideas and his observations. He had a passion for life and was interested in animals, nature, cultures and people. He had a real desire to learn about and understand everything.

''He found the Thai culture and people fascinating and embraced both from the minute he set foot in Thailand.

''Within a matter of months he knew how to speak Thai and, over the past few days, I've realised just how many wonderful and good friends he made over here.''

Kimberley Richards believes that Ben was taking medication that affected and disoriented him, to the point where he believed he could swim back to Australia.

Having sensed from telephone conversations that her brother needed help, Kimberley tried to book a flight to Phuket as fast as possible. The first flight on which she could buy a ticket arrived on Sunday.

Ben entered the sea at Surin beach on Saturday, police believe, after having a final massage and a meal, then giving away his watch and most of his clothing.

Ben was a strong swimmer. His body was found seven kilometres out to sea.

''We grew up in Noosa in Queensland, which is where Ben lived until he moved over here a bit more than two years ago,'' Kimberley said.

''He started his first business when he was about 14 or 15 years old, within the IT industry, and has been an entrepreneur and businessman ever since.

''Ben loved animals and had a unique connection with them. He had birds, dogs and fish and he had so many different interests and hobbies. He was always talking about ideas, and his observations on life.

''He was an amazing person. He had a very active and intelligent mind and a brilliant sense of humor. He would light up a room with his personality and everyone he met really warmed to him.

''His Mum loved him - I can't even describe just how much she loved him - he was her beautiful baby boy.''

Friends of Ben Richards can contact Kimberley on 083 6375017.
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Saturday August 8, 2020
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