Geoffrey Bennun

 Sometimes things happen, that really make you sit back and consider how the choices you make in your life do determine a path and an outcome.  Geoffrey has been my friend for more than 20 years.  We met when we worked for the hotel management company ‘All Seasons’ as General Managers.  We immediately gravitated to each other because in our own individual ways we are non-conformists.  Over those 20 years our friendship has deepened.  He came to Holland to be with me at my wedding and we would see each other every couple of years as Geoffrey undertook one of his world trips to catch up with all his “good buddies”.

In May, he came to Amsterdam once again where he stayed with Karine and I, before heading off on a Dutch canal cruise for a week with his Australian friends ‘Darling & Darling’.  On Saturday June 5, we all went to Restaurant Dauphine on a beautiful summers evening to celebrate Geoffrey’s 60th birthday, which was that day.  It was very special because he pretended that he didn’t want to celebrate this milestone at all, but you could see that he was very happy.  The waiter took photos of the two of us, arms around each other, happy in the knowledge that we shared a real friendship.  How do I know it was a real friendship, it was simple.  I knew with complete certainty that if I was ever in real trouble I could call Geoffrey and he would come and he would do whatever was in his power to help me.  He also knew that of me.

Geoffrey has had a full, if non-conventional life.  When he was still in his 20’s he set up a Peace Foundation in Vancouver which he passionately believed in, he went on to build a very successful career in hotels, opening a number of 5 star properties primarily in Asia, he ran the Media Village at the Sydney Olympics, was a Director of F&B on a cruise ship and then decided to retire because he was convinced that he would die from cancer at a relatively early age, as had his mother, father and sister.  Every year he undertook a barrage of medical tests in Sydney, looking for any sign that his prediction would come true.  In between regular medical tests he would travel. 

This May/June when we were together we had a lot of conversations about life, death and when he would finally leave his life in Asia and move back to Sydney.  He loved living in Asia, but he found it so limiting and in truth he found that he was lonely.  When I dropped him at Schiphol airport I told him that I will come and see him sometime within the next year and check out his place.  We recently exchanged emails and I agreed to visit him in October, the last email from Geoffrey being 7 days ago.

Why am I writing this story? It is to help me deal with the news today that sometime within the last 7 days, Geoffrey and his friend Abby were murdered in his house in Angeles City in the Philippines.  Following an argument, they were both shot dead with a 9mm  pistol.

I took this photo of Geoffrey in June whilst he was sitting at my dining room table and we in the midst of yet another long discussion.

Geoffrey was a gentle soul and a very kind man.  He always helped out others even when he knew he would never get his money back.  His eccentricity endeared him to a lot of people and he was genuinely loved in return.  He did make a difference to a lot of people’s lives and we have all lost something that will leave a hole in our hearts for a very long time.

I never did get that photo of the two of us at Restaurant Dauphine.