Engineering students benefit from generous legacy of Oliver Blizard

22 June 2017

Trainee engineers at Gloucestershire College (GC) will be able to develop their technical skills using new, state of the art mechanical and electrical equipment, thanks to the generosity of Sarah Blizard, in memory of her late husband, the well-respected engineer and businessman, Oliver.

Mr Blizard was born in Painswick in 1932 and attended Cheltenham College. He began his career as an apprentice at Fielding and Platt, one of the county’s most prominent engineering firms and served in the Royal Engineers and Territorial Army.

On return from National Service, he joined automotive specialists, Page and Davies, working his way up and eventually taking over the business, which he expanded by opening car dealerships, body shops and filling stations around Gloucestershire.

Mr Blizard’s passion for radio led to his role as one of the founding directors of Severn Sound radio station, on which he performed a regular Saturday morning restaurant review. He was known for being a fair and generous employer, who was widely respected by his associates and employees. He remained a very private person throughout his life, often keeping his gestures of generosity a secret and opting out of social occasions, in favour of spending time in the village pub.

This week the newly branded Oliver Blizard Laboratories were officially unveiled by Oliver’s wife, Sarah, along with a plaque celebrating Mr Blizard’s life, taking pride of place in the Engineering centre at the GC Gloucester Campus. The ceremony was attended by GC Principal, Matthew Burgess, the College’s Executive Team, engineering staff, stakeholders and local industry partners.

Principal Matthew Burgess said: “Engineering has always been a big part of the heritage of Gloucestershire College, as well as being the foundation of our economy.

“The UK is the sixth largest manufacturer on the planet, but it’s estimated that we’ll need a million more engineers by 2020 to compete with other countries. That’s why we need to grow and develop the workforce, equipping our trainee engineers with the most up-to-date skills.

“We are both honoured and humbled by the generosity of Sarah Blizard in memory of her husband, Oliver. We’ll do our utmost to preserve his legacy for the future generations of engineers at Gloucestershire College.”

Head of Engineering, Brian Fowler showed guests some of the electronics, mechatronics and control laboratory equipment purchased thanks to the investment. He said: “Thanks to Sarah’s generosity we’ve been able to equip the four Oliver Blizard Laboratories with the latest technology, which has made a tremendous difference.

“The new equipment is enabling us to work with the University of West England and companies like GE Aviation, Renishaw, Poeton and Delphi to develop higher level skills in the county. In fact, as we speak we are hosting a regional heat of the Worldskills engineering competition with students from Airbus, who have been very impressed by the great facilities we have.”

After the official ribbon cutting to unveil the plaque, guests were taken on a tour of the four Oliver Blizard Laboratories by Deputy Head of Engineering, Hameed Okyere. Mrs Blizard met some of the students working in the labs and watched demonstrations of their projects, which included a STEM flight simulation game developed by students to raise awareness of electronic engineering careers.

Sarah Blizard said: “It gives me great pleasure to see what the students are doing, it looks so much fun and I’m happy to see that more girls are getting involved in the subject.”

Gloucestershire College delivers a wide range of mechanical and electronic courses ranging from Level 2 to BEng Degree, in its specialist facilities. Find out more at: www.gloscol.ac.uk/engineering

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