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Tony MacWhirter, chief executive of MacWhirter group and cooling pioneer, dies after battle with cancer

Tony MacWhirter, a pioneer in the growth of commercial air conditioning in the UK and charismatic boss of the family firm, has died after a battle with cancer

The cooling industry is mourning the loss of Tony MacWhirter, who as chief executive of the family-run MacWhirter group did much to influence the growth of commercial air conditioning in the UK. His charismatic personality ensured he was fondly remembered in the industry, In his own time he became successful in other fields, firstly in rugby and then latterly in motorsports, particularly rallying.

His funeral will take place on Friday 13th February from 11:00am in Cardiff, with a memorial service following, from 12:00 noon until 3:00pm,

As an influential member and chair of various groups within both the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board and the HVCA (now the B&ES), Mr MacWhirter was instrumental in improving standards for the industry. Recently his company has been a key partner in the pan-European IServ project which sought to improve maintenance of AC systems.

After joining the family firm from school in 1969 and completing his refrigeration apprenticeship, he helped to evolve an air conditioning specialism alongside the refrigeration and electrical focus.

The company grew from its south Wales base as the air conditioning markets become established in the UK and added depots from Bristol to London to Burgess Hill. It has grown to become a diverse cooling business serving a range of refrigeration, AC and heat pump clients.

When the family firm celebrated its 130th anniversary in 2012, Mr MacWhirter spoke proudly of the milestone. He said: “We are extremely proud to remain a family-run business with the same values, commitment, and vision that led William McWhirter to establish the company [The family changed its name to MacWhirter in the early 1900s]. From those beginnings, we have continued to develop and diversify ourselves.  At times, it has been challenging with tough economic climates and a competitive industry but we continue to adapt and remain very proud of our heritage and achievements.”

Tony MacWhirter was also particularly focused on carbon reduction and environmental engineering, pioneering in applications such as data centre cooling and use of heat pumps, a focus that saw the company shortlisted in the Cooling Awards on several occasions.

At the time of the company anniversary he said:

“Going forward energy conservation will continue to be a priority for the company. We are committed to reducing our own and our customers’ carbon footprint and will continue to lead the way forward. We are very excited about the future of the company.”

Readers' comments (3)

  • It was very sad to hear of Tony's passing. He was a great friend and colleague over many years at HVCA and B&ES committees - an inspiration as an engineer and an industry champion. He was instrumental in driving the creation of Refcom and pushing forward the uptake of ACRIB cards - both essential elements of our industry as we know it today.
    He'll be sadly missed at committee meetings.

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  • Point of detail. No Monday 13th Feb !!

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  • Good point, duly corrected!

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