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BESA mourns ‘tireless servant’ Norman Mitchell

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has paid tribute to one of the air conditioning and refrigeration industry’s leading figures, Norman Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell was a tireless servant to the sector for more than half a century, giving generously of his time to all of its leading bodies. He was a Fellow of the Institute of Refrigeration and was chair of the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board (ACRIB); the HVCA (now BESA) Refrigeration & Air Conditioning group; and the UK’s primary F-Gas register REFCOM.

He was also a long-time President of AREA, the European contractors’ association, which honoured him with an honorary life membership on his retirement in 2000. He also served on various standards committees over the years.

Mitchell’s of Gloucester is well known throughout the South and West of England having been set up by Norman’s grandfather LC Mitchell in 1905. Norman took over as managing director in 1977 on the death of his father and was still serving as chairman. His son Garrion has been managing director since 2000.

Head of REFCOM Graeme Fox – a fellow former President of AREA – was able to represent the wider industry at the funeral despite Covid-19 restrictions and paid fulsome tribute to a man he described as both friend and mentor.

“What words can sum up Norman Mitchell?  Professional; dedicated; and committed,” said Mr Fox. “He demonstrated all of these qualities throughout his working life and through his years of tireless service helping to shape the modern industry.”

Mitchell’s was an electrical engineering company that had diversified into refrigeration in 1935 and Norman joined its ranks in the early 70s. He originally trained as an electrical engineer before serving his time – not just with the family firm – but also with a number of other employers, which gave him broad and deep technical knowledge.

As well as his dedication to the world of cooling and determination to improve standards through his work for BESA and others; he was a passionate narrow boat owner becoming a leading figure in that field too.

He was fiercely protective of the constitutions and rules of operation of the various bodies he served and Mr Fox said, while this might have led to the occasional “robust debate” with other members, it was always accompanied by good humour.

“Above all, his dedication to making sure all was done correctly is why we now have a strong contractors’ association in Europe and robust registration body in the UK,’ added Mr Fox. “The whole industry continues to benefit from the foundations laid down by Norman.

“I shall miss having him to call on for advice and counsel, but more than anything I will remember a good friend who was an inspiration to so many and to whom the refrigeration & air conditioning sector across Europe owes such an enormous debt.”

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