Published: 12:00, 15 April 2016
A kayaker whose body was found on the riverbank near Rochester was a successful Medway businessman, it emerged this week.
Dale Vivian, who was a general manager at an international company based on Medway City Estate, Strood, disappeared during one of his regular paddles on the River Medway after work.
A boatowner walking his dog made the grim discovery less than 12 hours after he was reported missing by his family last Tuesday, April 5.
Mr Vivian, 46, had worked for Glasweld Systems UK, a leading glass repair company for more than three years.
The firm, which has an office in Neptune Close, describes itself as the UK’s largest automotive glass repair organisation.
A post-mortem examination has revealed that he died of natural causes and an inquest will not be held.
His disappearance sparked a full-scale search involving police and coastguard helicopters, inshore and all-weather lifeboats from Sheerness, coastguard crews and police officers.
Medway Coastguard was alerted after a kayak resembling the one used by Mr Vivian was spotted adrift. His car was found parked near the river at Lower Upnor. Police launched a missing person investigation at about 10.15pm and the hunt continued overnight.
Andy Phillips, 61, who describes himself as a "man tracker", set off from Medway Bridge Marina, Borstal where his boat is moored the following morning after hearing the news on the radio.
Mr Phillips, who spends a lot of time on his boat, instinctively headed off towards an area known as Baty’s Marsh at about 9.30am.
Within about 10 minutes, Elsa, his seven-year-old cocker spaniel had tracked down a paddle. Mr Philips then looked ahead and saw a yellow hi-vis vest.
"He was caring and generous. He will be sorely missed by everyone" - Alan Button
“I was praying he was still alive, but deep down knew he was probably dead,” he said.
Mr Vivian, from Eltham, south east London, was married to Lisa and had a daughter Ambra, 16, and son Kade, 13.
Mr Alan Button, managing director of Glasweld Systems, has paid his heartfelt tribute to his colleague.
He said: “Dale was a very sporty person, who regularly went out kayaking. He was a strong swimmer and lifeguard. He would know if he got into difficulty how to get out of it.
“He was also a Christian, caring and generous. He will be sorely missed by everyone.”
South African-born Mr Vivian was a guest at a conference organised by the Federation of Small Businesses to discuss the construction of the Ebbsfleet Garden City in north Kent.
He told our reporter at the time: “We need small businesses to have a voice on the big panels. If the FSB could have an equal shout and represent the small business man in a co-operative environment, we can have a joint voice.
“We want them to have a fair crack at the lucrative work. We need someone representing us with the same voice as bigger players.”
His LinkedIn profile described him as "a determined and highly motivated individual with an astute commercial acumen and valuable all-round business experience". It stated he has a "relish for challenge and pressure and a proven ability to get difficult things done".