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David Summerfield 1934-2022

UK: The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has paid tribute to its former president David Summerfield whose death was announced this week. He was 88.

An extremely popular figure throughout a long and successful career in the building services sector, Summerfield served as BESA (then HVCA) president in 1999-2000. 

An industry veteran who worked for a clutch of highly respected industry companies including Climate Services, MITIE, and Estimation – he was best known as the long-serving chief executive of How Group. 

As well as his time as president, he served as a board director of the association’s employment services provider Welplan for more than 15 years and was a director of the refrigeration and air conditioning industry registration scheme REFCOM. 

In a statement, BESA said: “His commitment to raising professional and technical standards was unquestioned and he was a powerful advocate for improving career prospects for young engineers.”

On being elected president he said the “search for quality” should be the main preoccupation of the heating and air conditioning sectors. He was also an advocate of quality training for the “innovators of the future”.

Former BESA chief executive Robert Higgs OBE described Summerfield as “the most likeable of presidents” and paid tribute to his “calm, focussed and structured approach, which commanded respect”.

“I shall always remember him with huge affection and, in common with others, was amazed at his boundless energy and captivated by his consistently positive, upbeat and effervescent personality,” he said.

Current BESA chief executive David Frise added his words of praise describing Summerfield as “an inspirational figure” who continued to provide advice and support to the association and its members long after he retired. 

“I don’t think anyone ever had a bad word to say about David,” said Frise. “He was a consistently cheerful presence who will be sorely missed. He was a unifying figure who played a key role in bringing the industry together to address the difficulties our members had with onerous contract conditions and unfair payment practices.” 

BESA’s director of certification Rachel Davidson described Summerfield as a “visionary who was talking about the importance of competence certification long before the association set up its inspection & assessment regime. “He was a very kind, approachable and professional man,” she added. 

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