01st May 2020
Investigator, Rod Newbery, retired on Tuesday, 7 April after 29 years of working with us. We will miss him greatly, and want to acknowledge his service to Hawkins & Associates and beyond. He has investigated everything from fires, to road traffic collisions, to escapes of water, to the failure of a teapot.
Rod says of his early investigations and training with Hawkins: “The world was different then. No mobile phones, no satnav, no internet, film cameras. An important part of taking a new instruction was getting directions to the site, and we had a store of maps in the library. Every time I went to Birmingham I got lost - we didn’t have a Birmingham office then.”
When Rod joined us in 1991, we were a much smaller company with just one investigator in Bristol, two in Manchester, and eight in Cambridge, including him. He says some of the best aspects of working at Hawkins have been the people and the unpredictability. “You don’t know what you are going to be faced with and you don’t know when. You are always being given new challenges and get to see many interesting places.”
Rod is duly proud of a few Hawkins case records he holds including:
- Most seats of fire in one case -- 51 unsuccessful attempts using diesel
- Highest water leak -- on the 42nd floor of the HSBC tower at Canary Wharf
- Longest period of smouldering --42 days at a World War II hangar in North Weald Airfield
- Greatest distance between ignition and explosion -- 6.5 miles after a smouldering bale of cotton was mistakenly recovered from an overturned lorry and put into a different pickup vehicle, which drove 6.5 miles away to its yard. Overnight the smouldering developed and the oxygen cylinder exploded, destroying the pickup.
Rod was Managing Director of Hawkins between 2001 and 2006, during which time he steered the company through many changes and started a rapid period of growth.
Hawkins would also like to commend Rod’s work outside of his investigations. Both Rod, and fellow Cambridge Office investigator Rennie Chivers, spent a day with a terminally ill man who dreamed of riding in a Ferrari and Aston Martin, and made that dream come true.
Rod said that he was technically told not to come in on his first day of work with Hawkins, due to the fact that everyone available to train him was already out on site. And ironically, due to the current COVID-19 measures in place, Rod wasn’t able to go into the office on his last day, either. We look forward to the day when we can properly celebrate his career at Hawkins with him in person and wish him a very happy retirement.