BSRIA is sad to announce the death of Graeme Baker, former Chief Executive of the Association who died on Christmas Eve.
Graeme joined the Heating and Ventilating Research Association in 1967 to run the newly formed test section. Just a year later the Chairman reported in the Annual Report that “the decision to establish a Test Division has been an unqualified success”. Graeme had got off to a good start and he did not look back. He was quickly appointed Contracts Manager and proved adept at finding new opportunities and meeting the right people with whom to develop them.
As first Contracts Manager and later Assistant Director, he strengthened the budgetary control of all areas of the Association’s work and won many contracts from the European Commission and the UK government and established the Energy Quick Advice Service and Air Infiltration Centre when energy efficiency first started to be of interest in the UK in the 1970s and 80s.
Graeme was appointed the first Chief Executive of the Association in 1990. He steered the organisation from one that was Council led to a more commercial entity with a Board including internally appointed Executive Directors.
It was a busy decade with much time spent ensuring continued government support for industry research and Graeme sat on the Whole Industry Research Group and the Construction Research Innovation Strategy Panel. Promoting the research needs of industry to government was at the heart of this work. Graeme changed BSRIA from an organisation that primarily focussed on research to one that was influential in government and industry, identifying industry needs for research and promoting their uptake by industry. This work was recognised by the award of an OBE for services to industry in 1998 and also was recognised with an Honorary Fellowship by CIBSE.
While Graeme led the organisation, BSRIA’s turnover doubled to nearly £5 million: the new Instrument Solutions business was developed and the Market Intelligence Centre went global. A new laboratory was opened in Crowthorne and a complete new area of business was developed looking at construction process work. The seeds were sown for airtightness testing and building performance evaluation.
Reflecting on the role Graeme has played in BSRIA’s development, Julia Evans, current Chief Executive said “BSRIA’s current success owes much to the work of my predecessors. Graeme transformed the organisation and steered the Association from a research grant spender to an organisation that provided contract research and consultancy work to government and industry alike.”