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Graham Manly RIP

UK: Graham Manly OBE, one of the building services industry’s most respected figures, died last Friday (May 10).

Manly was one of the few people to have served as president of both the sector’s main contractor body BESA (then the HVCA) and its chartered institution CIBSE. He also served as chairman of the industry’s research organisation BSRIA. He was awarded the OBE for services to the building services sector in 2012.

BESA described Manly as “an absolute gentleman and unifying figure, who leaves a huge legacy and whose death will be mourned right across the building engineering sector”.

Current BESA president Tim Hopkinson said: “He was a wonderful engineer and business leader, but arguably his greatest achievement was his ability to bring people together and to promote collaboration in a notoriously fragmented industry.”

Former HVCA chief executive Robert Higgs OBE added that it was not “only that Graham’s contribution to the industry was so immense, it is as much his style, personality and generosity of spirit that will be remembered.”

Throughout his 50-year career, Graham was a great champion of young people, devoting much of his time to mentoring students, particularly during his 15 years serving as a STEM ambassador.

He joined the industry in 1962 when he began studying for his HND in environmental engineering at the National College of Heating, Ventilating, Refrigeration and Fan Engineering. Last year he received an honorary doctorate from the college in its current guise as the School of the Built Environment and Architecture – part of London South Bank University where he was also a visiting professor.

His first employer was J Jeffreys (later to become part of Balfour Beatty) where he rose to the position of senior design engineer before leaving to join his father’s firm, the mechanical services contractor A G Manly & Co, as contracts director. He took over as MD in 1982.

A G Manly was acquired by Gratte Brothers in 2000 and Graham transferred to the new company as business development director with special responsibility for technical innovation. He retired in 2015.

He was chairman of BSRIA in 1991/93; president of CIBSE in 2004/05; and president of the HVCA in 2009/10. He was also a director of Summit Skills and chair of the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies.

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