The boardroom at a world-leading research centre in Exeter has been named in memory of former South West Water Managing Director, Dr Stephen Bird.
Senior leaders from South West Water and the University of Exeter came together last week to attend a memorial event for the late Dr Bird at the Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste (CREWW) in Exeter.
Dr Bird was the Managing Director at South West Water between 2016 and 2019 and played an integral role in developing the vision and design for CREWW – a joint initiative between South West Water and the University of Exeter designed to solve some of the most pressing global environmental challenges of our time.
Based on the University’s Streatham Campus, CREWW will officially launch next year to undertake world-leading research into some of the most pressing environmental challenges in our time – namely how we can manage our precious natural resources in ways which are sustainable, innovative and resilient.
The memorial event on Friday (24 November) was attended by Dr Bird’s family, friends and former colleagues, and saw the naming of The Dr Stephen Bird Boardroom and the unveiling of a plaque to honour the commitment and vision of Dr Bird. The event was followed by a memorial lunch for attendees at Reed Hall.
Dr Bird joined South West Water in 1992 and became Managing Director in January 2016 after holding senior posts in the business. An accomplished academic and businessman, with a passion for education, Dr Bird’s vision for CREWW centred around the long-term benefits for customers, water resilience and the environment.
Dr Bird was equally passionate about giving people the ability to grow, learn, and develop. The purpose-built research facility brings those values to life, and provides a space to allow for progression, exploration, and advancements that will help solve real problems for both local and global communities.
Alongside his work at South West Water, Dr Bird who was a proud Plymothian, was a champion of the region’s businesses and economy.
Susan Davy, Chief Executive Officer at South West Water, said: “During his time at South West Water, Stephen made an immeasurable contribution to the company, the region and the water industry. His passion for the advancement of science, and the positive environmental impact of CREWW, were key driving forces behind the joint initiative. The CREWW initiative demonstrates the passion Stephen had for investing in education and reinforcing how collaborative thinking can bring about great change. We are proud to be able to honour his memory with the naming of the new boardroom.”
Professor Richard Brazier, co-director of CREWW from the University of Exeter, said: “I first met Stephen when I began undertaking research into South West Water’s pioneering programme of landscape restoration, Upstream Thinking. As fellow Geographers, we shared a world view and a well-rounded understanding of the ways in which the water cycle, so fundamental to life, is influenced by our approaches to land use and land management.
“As a former academic, Stephen clearly understood the need for sound science and evidence to support the kind of difficult decision-making that water companies are involved in. Without Stephen’s support, advice and mentorship, the Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste would not have come to be what it is today, a world-leading research centre which we hope will honour his name for decades to come.”
Dr Bird’s family have thanked South West Water and the University of Exeter for marking his exemplary career. They said Dr Bird would be honoured to have his name forever associated with the work that will be carried out in the CREWW building as the University trains up future leaders for the industry that he was proud to be a part of.
The Dr Stephen Bird Boardroom, named in Dr Bird’s honour will serve as a lasting tribute to Dr Bird (14.05.1958 – 10.05.2019).
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