Dave Ball: a tribute

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Published: 07 October 2019


refrigeration engineer obituary engineering J & E Hall kent
Dave Ball
Former J & E Hall Director of Engineering Dave Ball was one of the most respected figures in refrigeration. His death last month at the age of 72, after a short illness, came as a shock to family, friends and colleagues. J & E Hall Managing Director Andrew Bowden pays tribute to him.
 
The passing of a good friend, Dave Ball, was a great loss to J & E Hall and the refrigeration industry. His knowledge and experience was second to none and both company and industry benefited greatly from this for more than 40 years. Dave rose through the ranks at J & E Hall to director level and even after retirement was still working as a senior advisor to the company.
It is not just his technical expertise in refrigeration which was far reaching, but as much how he engaged with staff, customers and industry colleagues. He had a great ability to communicate highly complex information in a straightforward way to different audiences.
 
His long career began at LEC Refrigeration in Bognor Regis, Sussex, where he worked in special products. He joined J & E Hall in 1977 where he worked as a Design and Sales Engineer (Refrigeration) in Kenya before returning to the UK in 1981 to progress up the career ladder. My predecessor as Managing Director at J & E Hall, Mark Roberts, knew him well. He recalls the speed in which he could answer questions on almost any aspect of refrigeration you could care to mention.

The late 1990s were turbulent times for J & E Hall as the company was forced to close its manufacturing sites in Dartford and Thetford to restructure the business. At this time Dave was promoted to director level, working alongside Mark and the senior team and was instrumental in rebuilding the company to provide a strong foundation for growth and development. Dave was never one to shy away from difficult decisions and he proved to be a staunch ally at director level through to retirement.
 
J & E Hall is known in the refrigeration industry around the world and Dave travelled hundreds of thousands of miles working on projects around the globe. His expertise was also put to good use on behalf of the country by the Royal Navy. He supervised projects on some of its largest vessels and alongside marine, a real passion in refrigeration was brewing and he loved being at the centre of the big jobs in the drinks’ industry. As part of this he worked closely with the brewing, food and beverage trade association, the BFBi, and those who knew him will remember his liking for a pint of Guinness. 
 
As well as building strong relationships with customers, Dave enjoyed working with industry colleagues. He was a familiar figure at Institute of Refrigeration meetings, was a fellow of the IOR and served on the Institute’s Executive Council. He genuinely enjoyed socialising and engaging with fellow refrigeration engineers. He was a great ambassador and was happy to evangelise about the benefits of refrigeration to the wider society as a whole.
 
Even after he retired, he attended the inductions of new employees. He recognised the importance of apprenticeships in helping to maintain high levels of competence. Knowledge that had been built up over many years can be lost easily when people leave or retire and Dave was among those at J & E Hall who wanted to ensure that this progression of excellence continued. Young or old, workmate or industry colleague, Dave always took time to explain.
 
Away from the job, he and his wife Di lived at West Kingsdown near Sevenoaks in Kent. Golf was his passion in sport and playing off a handicap of 14 he was a member of the Dartford and Mid Kent clubs. He was also an active participant in the J & E Hall golf society. He looked forward to socialising with customers and engineers on and off the course. He also enjoyed cricket, walking and gardening.
 
Dave Ball believed passionately that it is the responsibility of all of us in the refrigeration industry to ensure that we put in place building blocks for the future. By this I mean we engage with young engineers by training them well and show them the great possibilities that exist. Refrigeration is a wonderful career and Dave Ball’s service to J & E Hall and the industry shows there is no limit to what you can achieve. We will miss him.
  • Dave Ball's funeral takes place in Gravesend on Wednesday (October 9).