new street bdg sm

Ron Cummings who joined in 1952.

Died in 2018

 

Edwin Walter Gordon (Ron) Cummings was part of the Services Equipment Division, RAF Orby intake in the early 1950s. He was the Field Services Project Controller for the NATO Sites in the 1960s. During his career he probably went to most of the NATO countries. In 1966 he was running the APOLLO Ascension Island installation. In 1973 he was the Technical Manager of SAGEU, where I first met him. He was Project Manager for Martello S723 Denmark (LAGER) project, and took over the UK (LIME) Project as well, until the final handover in 1989, when he retired.

Ron was a steady hand on the helm whilst the major engineering disasters were mounting around us. We called him Rocket Ron; not because of the speed of action, but the smoke emanating from his pipe, and his unperturbed manner as he steamed along creating order. I understand that he had an illustrious war service; but he never spoke about that. He was a real man-manager; the type that went out of fashion in the new era of Project Management. Where everything and everyone became a commodity of the work package, to be bought or sold; and which ultimately was heading for the oblivion of going out of business.

I still remember the occasion when Ron bought me a half pint of beer at the Liverpool Station bar, as we waited for the train back to Chelmsford. This was an understated celebration, that after a meeting with MOD at Turnstile House, High Holborn, we had finally been able to handover a very small part of S723. His words at the time are still true today for any job. 'If you sort out the small parts, the big parts fall into place.' Perhaps a statement of the obvious, but when you are up to your neck in alligators, draining the swamp is not your highest priority, even though it was your original intention.

I worked for him for three years on S723, and at the end, it felt like an honour to have done so.