The environmentalist and journalist Flemmich Webb, who has died aged 49, was a key driver behind Lloyd’s of London’s new sustainability strategy that includes fundamental changes to their insurance policies concerning the Arctic.
His passion for conservation and concern for the planet led him to work for many years in environmental journalism, reporting for the Guardian, Independent and Evening Standard. In 2009 he settled in Brighton, East Sussex, where he was a reporter and newsreader for Latest TV (his wit and one-liners were a feature of the bulletins) and became chair of Brighton and Hove 10:10, a not-for-profit organisation working to reduce carbon emissions.
Flemmich had visited some of the most remote parts of the planet, climbing mountains on five continents. But it was a north pole expedition in 2009 and his first-hand encounter with the effects of climate change that had a profound effect on the rest of his life – and inspired his push to change Lloyd’s policies.
In 2015 he joined Lloyd’s, as an in-house writer and editor, because of its potential to bring change on a global scale. He wrote speeches for the chairman and chief executive, and became increasingly involved in developing environmental, social and governance strategy. He argued that good insurance modelling should make sense commercially and environmentally, and helped convince Lloyd’s that new drilling for hydrocarbons in the Arctic should no longer be underwritten.
Flemmich worked tirelessly with colleagues on the Lloyd’s environmental, social and governance report released today. “This will be a fitting and long-lasting legacy for a deeply respected colleague,” the company said.
Flemmich was born in London, the eldest of four children of Tony Webb, an accountant, and Zara (nee Le Roy-Lewis), and elder brother to Christian, Saskia and Theo. He grew up near Sevenoaks, Kent, and attended New Beacon school before winning an academic scholarship to the King’s school, Canterbury, where he excelled at sport and academia and honed an extraordinary skill for building lifelong friendships.
He studied English literature at Leeds University, where he combined study, sport and social life, becoming a well-recognised figure on the dance scene. Whether playing football, cricket, tennis, golf, or just throwing paper into a bin, he was ruthlessly competitive.
After leaving university in 1993 he travelled with friends to Canada, working in sustainable farming. When he returned, he joined a community theatre co-operative in Dorset, travelling around the UK and Europe performing “instant theatre”, before deciding to pursue journalism. He was editor of Environment Business magazine 2000-03, then worked as a freelance until joining Lloyd’s.
Flemmich had a rare talent for making everyone he met feel welcome and special. He was best man at six weddings, including mine, a beloved uncle to seven nephews and a niece, and godfather to six children. He had a strong connection to all those children, immersing himself in their world by taking the time to understand what sparked their curiosity.
With his energy, enthusiasm, emotion and sense of purpose, he made the world better, more welcoming and exciting. He was as engaging a raconteur as he was engaged when listening. But as comfortable and confident as he felt in the world, he acted on a pressing desire to change it for the better.
Flemmich had been due to marry his long-term partner, Kate Henry, a cook and caterer, on Saturday 19 December – his 50th birthday. He collapsed while running on the South Downs last month, near where he lived with Kate and her daughter, Eloise, and did not recover. Kate placed Flemmich’s wedding ring on his finger before he died.
He is survived by Kate and Eloise, and his parents and siblings.