I’m an engineer through and through and proudly express myself as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
I studied natural sciences at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge which perhaps surprisingly provided an amazing education in all things practical.
Many of the hundreds of patents that I hold are for domestic appliances, thermostats and electrical equipment. My single most famous invention is the thermostat controls for the cordless kettle, patented and used throughout the world.
It’s been calculated that over two billion of the bi-metal blades I designed – used in thermostats to switch off kettles – have been produced since their invention in the 1970s.
The company I founded, Strix, holds four Queen’s Awards, three for Export and one for Innovation, granted for my 360-degrees cordless kettle connector.
My personal interests include flying, first flying solo in 1953. I love aeronautical design – from the streamlined shape of the plane’s exterior to the dial and numerous ‘clock’ faces in the cabin.
I was awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2011 New Year’s honours list for services to business and horology.
My interest in engineers stretched to the design and building of innovative clocks, including the Corpus Christi Chronophage, which was donated to and on permanent display at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. I’ve also designed an intelligent pendulum.
Over the years I’ve made numerous contributions to educational establishments, including the support of the Centre for Manufacturing at UMIST, which opened in 2001.
I’ve been an active benefactor to my former Cambridge College, contributing £2.5 million in 2008 towards the construction of a new Taylor Library for students. I’ve also funded many scholarships and bursaries that are aimed to help shape the engineers of tomorrow.
An Honorary Doctorate from UMIST and the title of Visiting Professor of Innovation were awarded in recognition of my numerous patents. I am also an elected Honorary Fellow of Corpus Christi College.