Family and colleagues pay tribute to vision of Geoffrey Cundall

Founder of the Newcastle-based international engineering consultancy firm Cundall is remembered for being ahead of his time

Geoffrey Cundall
Geoffrey Cundall

The family and colleagues of Geoffrey Cundall, one of the founders of Newcastle-based engineering consultancy Cundall, have paid tribute to his vision following his recent death.

Mr Cundall had a distinguished career in building services which included setting up the consultancy firm - alongside Michael Burch, Rick Carr, David Gandy and Bernard Johnston - which today operates from 20 offices in 11 countries.

He died at the age of 90 on February 18 and his survived by Rachel, his wife of 64 years, and his daughters Ruth, Heather, Joanna and ten grandchildren.

Described as a man of great faith and integrity by former colleague John McArdle, Mr Cundall had also worked as a lecturer at the Building Services Department of Sheffield University and as partner in R W Gregory and Partners, before he founded Cundall in 1976.

As a Quaker he was motivated to establish a business underpinned by ethical practices and his wife Rachel described him as “ahead of his time” for his early interest in sustainability.

In the 1970s Mr Cundall was one of the founding members of the North East Energy Conservation Group lead by Sir Horace Heyman, which raised awareness of the need for energy efficiency and conservation.

One of his proudest achievements was his work on the low energy policy for Wansbeck Hospital which included special measures to maximise daylight in the building and incorporate low carbon technologies such as wind turbines and waste to energy generation.

Mr Cundall was responsible for the design of environmental services across a number of notable buildings throughout the North East, including the likes of Jesmond Library which was designed by Henry Faulkner Brown and opened in 1963.

Outside of work Mr Cundall was active in the community, serving as chairman of the Council for Voluntary Service from 1986 to 1991. He also read for Tyne Sound News, the charity which provides a “talking newspaper” for blind and partially sighted North Easterners.

He was a keen fitness enthusiast and enjoyed hill walking, cycling and swimming throughout his life.

Cundall partner Keith Anderson said: “I met Geoffrey when I joined Cundall as a graduate in 1984. My first impression was how professionally he conducted himself in everything he did.

“He was very keen on keeping fit and followed an army style training regime.

“While some of us would go over to Gosforth pool and swim 50 lengths at lunch time Geoffrey would swim set numbers of lengths against the timing clock which he used to get the attendants to turn on for him, he was doing interval training 30 years ago.”

It was not until 1989 that Mr Cundall retired, but he stayed close to the business. In 2005 he visited the firm’s Melbourne office and expressed his pride in Cundall’s global reach which today spans 20 offices in 11 countries.

In retirement he and Rachel undertook several Himalayan treks in Nepal and Sikim. He first saw Mount Everest on his sixty fifth birthday and reached over 18,000ft in his seventies.

Using his skills in photography, Mr Cundall gave slide shows to raise money for Nepalese Sherpas to take English lessons.

Former Cundall structural partner John McArdle said: “I first met Geoffrey when I joined his newly formed multi-disciplinary practice in 1976 as a graduate engineer. I soon came to realise that he was a most experienced, professional, courteous and precise consultant, greatly respected by his peers for his impartial advice.

“He was also a man of great faith and integrity, which for him were guiding principles in the way he conducted himself in both his public and private life.

“Geoffrey was prepared to take risks, and setting up a small new practice in 1976, after a long successful career elsewhere, was one of them — without that the Cundall we know today would simply not exist.”

His wife Rachel added: “Above all Geoffrey was a family man, much loved and enjoyed by all his grandchildren who were fortunate to benefit from his influence and encouragement until all were adults.”

There will be a Quaker Service of Thanksgiving on May 1, at Trinity Church, Gosforth

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