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Posted: Sat Feb 13, 2016 2:29 pm
by Ron Suddes
Our Fred was given the send off he deserved. Virtually 100% turnout from Marley Hill. Standing room only at the Crematorium.


Posted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 4:14 pm
by Steven Cole
Posted on behalf of John Leary

I remember my time at the Weyhill Maintenance Planning Group (MPG) in the early to mid 1980’s with considerable affection. At the heart of its work then was the maintenance planning of the fixed and mobile equipments that were purchased by DTELS to support the WARC frequency change out programme.

I took responsibility for the MPG in December 1983. My memory is rather hazy on this point but I believe that Fred Williamson was already in post when I arrived but if not he joined MPG shortly after I did.
Fred’s role was the maintenance planning of the WARC mobile equipments. Initially the work involved looking at the tender proposals to determine the whole life costs of the various manufacturers’ offers and to assess, in an objective manner, the offered equipments maintainability and reliability.

After the contracts had been awarded, Fred’s role broadened to include liaison with the chosen manufacturers to guide their pre-production planning towards the manufacture of equipments that not only achieved their specified performances but were reliable and capable of being maintained at minimum cost.

Additionally his role included the development of maintenance policy, the scaling of spares and test equipment and the production by the manufactures of handbooks that were well written and properly illustrated.

It was not only Fred’s experience, engineering knowledge and skills that were brought to bear and which proved to be so valuable, but also his interpersonal skills, his tenacity, refusal to accept second best and his ability to forge close relationships with the manufacturers engineering staff (from designers to Chief Engineer). In this he was outstandingly successful as in the main he was able to persuade them to make beneficial changes to their equipments without additional cost.

The true scale of the success of his work could be seen quite dramatically when we were eventually able to compare the initial production prototypes against the Build Standard models. I believe those changes and improvements did not occur accidentally but as a result of Fred’s tireless efforts.

He was undemonstrative, good humoured, extremely hard working and always determined to achieve the best possible outcomes. He liked to work with the minimum of supervision and this was possible from the very early days of our collaboration because I always considered him as someone who could be depended on do what was required, when it was required. He was always on top of his game.

Although focussed on his own work, he was very much a team player by participating fully in all of MPG’s activities. He was well liked and respected by his colleagues through his willingness to share his experiences and to offer advice when it was sought. He was imaginative and innovative about maintenance support and his input to the manufacturer’s designers and production engineers certainly improved the capabilities of their products.

I eventually moved on from Weyhill to take up a Headquarters planning post so our career paths diverged and we never worked together again. I do know that after I left he was promoted to the post of Regional Wireless Engineer at the Marley Hill depot but cannot say when that occurred or if his duties changed at Weyhill before he was promoted to RWE.

The last time we met was at a Weyhill reunion that took place in November 1997. On that occasion he was his usual affable, friendly and charming self and it was a pleasure (albeit too briefly) for me to discuss and reminisce with him about old times. It seems incredible to me now to realise that that last meeting took place eighteen years ago. I have never forgotten him and value the time we spent working together. He was a truly fantastic engineer and technologist and I believe that he deserves great praise for his many achievements and for his tireless contribution to the work of DTELS in supporting the emergency services.

I was deeply saddened by Fred’s death and mourn his passing. I offer my most sincere condolences to his partner, son and daughter and all of his extended family.

John Leary
18th January 2016


Posted: Sat Jan 16, 2016 5:00 pm
by Steven Cole
It is with regret to announce Ron Suddes has notified me that Fred Williamson passed away on Friday 8th January 2016 aged 80.

The funeral service and cremation will be held at Birtley Crematorium, Windsor Rd, Birtley, Chester le Street DH3 1PQ on Friday 22nd January at 11.00am. Friends and ex-colleagues are requested to meet at the crematorium. Family flowers only please. Otherwise, donations in lieu if desired to the N.S.P.C.C. or a donation may be made at the service. Afterwards all are welcome back to Eslington Villa for refreshments.

No other details are known at the time of this posting.