Held at United Insurance Brokers in London, Tracey Richardson handed over the presidential baton to Christopher Northey. Mel Gumbs was elected as vice president.
Mr Northey started his plumbing career in 1987 as an apprentice within the family business. After attaining his Craft and Advanced Craft plumbing qualifications with City & Guilds and completing a four-year plumbing apprenticeship through the JIB, he studied for a further three years at BTEC level, obtaining an ONC and HNC in Building Studies at Cornwall College.
Mr Northey then spent six solid years on the tools before studying for a Building Services Engineering Design and Management degree at Reading University.
Moving into the design of public health engineering services, associated with water, drainage, fire and gas engineering systems, he then gained Incorporated Engineer (IEng) registration in 1999, and in obtained Chartered Engineer (CEng) status in 2006. He attained his Master Plumber Certificate in 2004.
For the past seven years Mr Northey has been a design director, responsible for leading teams of public health engineers on a variety of projects.
In his first presidential address, he emphasised his belief in the importance of working in partnership with other bodies to improve the industry, raise standards and petition government on important issues such as regulatory change and the installation of residential sprinkler systems post-Grenfell. The CIPHE’s role in providing technical guidance and its growing international remit were also highlighted in his speech.
Unsurprisingly, given Mr Northey’s background, the bulk of his address considered the importance of training and career progression, along with the value of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
He stated: “Encouraging young people into our great industry and giving them opportunities for career progression must be one of our key goals and objectives for securing our industry’s future. We have the technical knowledge and experience as plumbing and heating professionals, and we must ensure that this continued transfer of both practical and technical knowledge is maintained to the next generation of young plumbing and heating engineers.
“At this moment in time, with the unfortunate rise in the skills shortage within our industry, never has training and competence been more essential. With ever changing regulations, increased standards and more complex systems and components, the need for a highly trained workforce is a must.”
Mr Northey also set out his personal interest in tackling Legionella within our water supplies. He said: “Not only is there a risk associated with hot water supplies, but in recent years there is a great risk associated with cold water systems within buildings. In essence, the good design, installation and maintenance of hot and cold water systems is essential in order to manage and maintain the risk to an acceptable level. We within the plumbing industry need to continue to raise the profile of this potential ticking time bomb.”
He finished his speech with a call to arms: “Join us in ensuring that we all play our full part in meeting the demanding challenges of doing more with less, whilst maintaining the population’s public health, both here in the UK and around the world.
“As professionals, it is our mandate and responsibility to provide designs and installations that meet the need for healthy buildings, such as providing potable drinking water and adequate sanitation services to all buildings which serve the people within them.
“Providing excellent plumbing and heating engineering is our greatest asset and I look forward, on behalf of CIPHE, to delivering this challenge to industry during my presidential year.”
Outgoing president Tracey Richardson said: “I would like to thank everyone for the support they have shown towards the Institute, but also on a personal note, to all of those who have shown their support and belief in me throughout my year in office.
“If the fact of me being in office as the first female president for the Institute encourages others to follow my lead, I will feel that I have made my mark.”
CIPHE chief executive Kevin Wellman added: “I’d like to thank Tracey Richardson for her hard work and dedication in her presidential year.
“Chris, with his passion for the industry and interest in training is a perfect successor to Tracey, who made education and training pivotal to her year in office. Chris steps up to CIPHE’s most coveted role after a year serving as vice president and will himself be supported by Mel Gumbs. With many challenges ahead, we look forward to using Chris’ knowledge for the greater good of the industry and look forward to working together in the year ahead.”