NEPFT’s design of its new £9.6 million CAMHS unit in Colchester, which Paul Fenton was responsible for as a scheme. Right: An internal courtyard within the new CAMHS unit.

time – he was, for example, ‘always making things’. A Meccano and Lego fan, he would often rig up a battery to illuminate his creations, and was also fond of taking apart and ‘fixing’ domestic appliances, ‘sometimes even when they were working 100 per cent’.

Discipline and respect He said: “The apprenticeship was enjoyable, but at times hard work, with a regime where, if you didn’t perform, you were out. On day one they told us that 25 per cent of the apprentices sitting in the hall would not be here in 10 months’ time, and so it transpired. The practical training facilities were excellent, with engineering workshops, electrical installation bungalows, and an appliance repair workshop.” On completing the initial residential training, successful participants returned to their depots, in Paul Fenton’s case, in Ipswich. He spent the next four years accompanying electricians to gain wide-ranging experience, while concurrently studying at Civic College in Ipswich to obtain City & Guilds certificates. On completing the apprenticeship, he received a City & Guilds ‘C’ certificate in Electrical Installation work. He still has his

set of Eastern Electricity indentures signed off with a wax seal. By this point a full-time employee of the contracting arm of Eastern Electricity, which, after privatisation, became Eastern Contracting, he progressed through a variety of roles – including Electrician, Technician, Sales Engineer, and Operations Manager, from September 1984-September 1997, when he took on an altogether different position as Facilities Manager for US-owned Texas Utilities (TXU) Europe, with overall responsibility for FM services and activities across a portfolio of over 600 former Eastern Electricity properties acquired by the company when it bought the business in 1997.

Back at college

He said: “During a very interesting 13 years with the contracting arm of Eastern Electricity, I worked on everything from domestic appliance repairs to large industrial and commercial electrical installations. In 1992 I returned to college to undertake both an ONC and an HNC in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. I was with Eastern Electricity for about 20 years, enjoying the immense variety of work. I still keep up with former colleagues, most recently via once-weekly online ‘catch- ups’. My time with Eastern Electricity was hugely enjoyable; there was a great sense of teamwork. Based in Ipswich, where I had grown up and still live, I worked across quite a large area, spanning the Five Rivers area of Eastern Electricity.” Later, in 1993, having also gained some mechanical engineering experience, particularly in air- conditioning, Paul Fenton was to work in the Ipswich depot as a Sales Engineer. He said: “Coming off the tools to wear a shirt and tie was quite a shock to the system. I remember at that time we had one computer, which we all had to share.”

A large team

A 2006 edition of the Southend Hospital NHS Trust magazine, ‘Look’, with a focus on the then Capital Development team.

He subsequently progressed, in October 1995, to Operations Engineer, in charge of electrical installations within the Ipswich area, overseeing a large team. In the autumn of 1997, he applied for a Facilities Manager role just as Texas Utilities bought out Eastern Electricity. This saw him look after a portfolio of some 130 buildings, spread throughout Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex,

A Colchester Gazette front page article about the planning application and future of the old Severalls Hospital site. Paul Fenton was responsible for the sale and marketing of the land, and agreeing the overall masterplan/planning application.

February 2021 Health Estate Journal 15

north London, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, and Cambridgeshire, all former Eastern Electricity sites. With his contracting knowledge, TXU then decided he should manage all FM services. He was suddenly responsible for cleaning, catering, and logistics management activities. In 1998, he was asked, along with colleagues in TXU’s Property Department, to look at FM provision in European offices, and he spent some interesting times procuring and fitting out offices in cities including Geneva, Prague, and Warsaw. He explained: “This was very much a senior management role. I guess I left my pure electrical days behind the day I took the up the TXU role. (TXU subsequently sold the business to PowerGen).

“I really benefited from this FM role’s breadth – being responsible for anything from critical electrical and mechanical infrastructure, to property leasing and disposal, and moving teams to address the de-regulation of the energy market. “Being a US business,” he continued, “it was much more ‘commercial’ than working for a regional, publicly-owned electricity provider, but we had some

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