James William Heselden
27 March 1948
Halton Moor, Leeds,
|Died||26 September 2010 (aged 62)|
|Cause of death||Accidental fall off cliff while riding a Segway|
|Known for||Chairman of Hesco Bastion Ltd|
|Net worth||£340m |
|Awards||Officer of the Order of the British Empire|
James William "Jimi" Heselden OBE (27 March 1948 – 26 September 2010) was a British entrepreneur. A former coal miner, Heselden became wealthy by manufacturing the Hesco bastion barrier system. In 2010, he bought Segway Inc., maker of the Segway personal transport system. Heselden died in 2010 from injuries apparently sustained falling from a cliff while riding his own product. His estate, bequeathed to his widow and family, was worth over £340 million and he was ranked in the top 400 members of the Sunday Times Rich List.
Heselden grew up in the Halton Moor district of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. At the age of 15, Heselden left Osmondthorpe Secondary Modern School to work as a labourer and then at collieries in Temple Newsam and Lofthouse. He lost his job in the wave of redundancies that followed the 1984–85 miners' strike and spent his redundancy money on renting a workshop and, at first, setting up a sandblasting business. He then worked on developing and patenting a collapsible wire mesh and fabric container, now called Hesco bastion, to be used for building flood management and to limit erosion.
In 1989, Heselden founded Hesco Bastion Ltd to manufacture containers of the same name; filled with sand or earth, they quickly found favour with the armies of several countries, as they allowed effective blast walls, barriers and revetments to be quickly constructed. Made in Hesco's factory in Leeds, these were shipped (flat-packed) in great numbers to conflict zones, including Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as later being used for flood defences at New Orleans. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2006 Queen's Birthday Honours, "for services to the Defence industry and to Charity."
In 2008, Heselden donated £1.5 million to the Help For Heroes fund through a charity auction bid for nine people to fly with the Red Arrows and, in the same year, set up the Hesco Bastion Fund in his home city with a £10 million donation to the Leeds Community Foundation. A further £3 million was added to the foundation in 2009 and an additional £10 million in 2010.
Heselden has said, "There are people out there who are making money and when times are good I honestly believe people have a moral obligation to use their wealth to help others."
On the morning of 26 September 2010, Heselden was killed when he fell from a cliff footpath into the River Wharfe, at the village of Thorp Arch near Boston Spa; a Segway vehicle was found near him. The West Yorkshire Coroner concluded that Heselden had died accidentally, and that he had probably "got into difficulty" when he reversed his vehicle to allow a man walking his dog to pass.
- "BBC News: Segway boss leaves £340m to his wife and family". 19 August 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
- Jimi Heselden: Miner who used his redundancy money to become a businessman and philanthropist, The Independent Obituary, 2 October 2010.
- "Appeal: Death of James Heselden". West Yorkshire Police. 28 September 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- "Segway boss Jimi Heselden dies in scooter cliff fall". BBC. 27 September 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Wainwright, Martin (30 September 2010). "Jimi Heselden obituary". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Brooke, Chris (28 September 2010). "Millionaire Segway tycoon dies in cliff plunge on one of his own scooters". Mail Online. London. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Fortson, Danny; Beresford, Philip (21 December 2008). "Ex-miner blasts salary to £25m". The Sunday Times.
- "No. 58014". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2006. p. 11.
- Freeman, Sarah (18 September 2010). "The man who gave £23m of his fortune to charity". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
- "Segway tycoon fell from a cliff to his death on one of his own scooters as he 'let dog walker pass'". London: Associated Newspapers Ltd. 15 July 2011.
- "Inquest into Segway head's death". 4 October 2010 – via www.bbc.co.uk.