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Remembering CIBSE Past President James Ernest Fretwell
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Remembering CIBSE Past President James Ernest Fretwell

17 Apr 24

James Ernest Fretwell was born in Stratford, east London on 21 October 1933, one of 4 siblings and the eldest son.

Jim attended Ilford Grammar School and South West Essex Technical College, before starting his career working for the family business – The Fretwell Heating Company.

Jim joined Sulzer Bros in 1952 where he trained as a design project engineer, and joined the Sulzer Management team in 1964, becoming sales director in 1983.

Jim’s tenacity enabled him to enhance his career by studying at night school to achieve the qualification of Chartered Engineer, whilst working full time. During his career at Sulzer’s he was associated with projects for hospitals, airports, schools, public buildings, offices and business development both in the UK and the United Arab Emirates.

He was appointed to the Board of Sulzer Infra (UK) in 1987 before taking early retirement in May 1992.

Following closely in the footsteps of his Grandfather, W.E. Fretwell, who was President of CIBSE in 1935, Jim become a CIBSE Fellow. He was the first Board member of the Building Services Publication to be elected Chairman, and has served on numerous IHVE and CIBSE committees as well as two terms on CIBSE Council. The highlight was being elected CIBSE President in 1999, and guiding the Institute into the Millenium. He was a member of the Institute of Management and a founder member of the District Heating Association.

Aside from his career, Jim’s two great passions were his family and Freemasonry. Jim married Jean in July 1955, and they had 2 children, Laurence and Susan. He adored his children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. When not spending quality time with his family, he was an active Freemason raising money for numerous charities, including the Friends of Oak View School, a school for children with special educational needs. Jim served as Chairman of the Association of Friends of Oak View School, and in 2012, following rigorous fundraising presented the school with a Sunshine Coach for trips out. This masonic charity work, and the association with The Friends of Oak View School continued throughout his retirement and up until his passing.

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