Composites UK was sad to learn of the passing of Trevor Starr, one of its original founders, on 9th January 2020.
Born in Stoke Newington on 16th October 1933, Trevor Fredrick Starr moved to Lancaster with his parents after a few initial years in London. He went to grammar school but, by his own admission, did not do his best and ended up leaving in July 1950 having not received sufficient qualifications to get into university.
This didn’t stop Trevor, working as a Laboratory Assistant at Williamson’s Research and Development Laboratory - the company his father worked for - whilst studying for an Ordinary National Diploma in Chemistry. In early 1955 he moved to be a Technical Officer at Ferodo in Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire. There he obtained an Ordinary National Diploma and then a Higher National Certificate in Metallurgy on day release at what is now Sheffield Hallam University.
After a move Paignton in Devon in 1960 to work for Standard Telephones, Trevor and his young family relocated to Coventry, where he worked for Dunlop Rim and Wheel as a Powder Metallurgist and a part time lecturer at Coventry Technical College.
In 1966 a move to Crewkerne in Somerset saw Trevor working for, and set up a number of companies including Sterling Industries, Starr-Hodge Consultants and Arlake Limited. His position at glass and carbon fibre consultants, Peter Hodges Associates, saw Trevor in a Chief Technical Officer role, running the laboratory undertaking investigation and other technical services, including new building panels and structures in the Middle East and the now demolished telecommunications hub, Mondial House in London.
Trevor started Technolex, Consulting Engineers in Composites with wife, Mary in 1978. Whilst Trevor had the technical knowledge, Mary brought the marketing, organisational and administration skills they needed for a successful business partnership.
In 1989 there was a small group of GRP moulders who felt that they needed a dedicated trade association to help support them in their growth.
Keith Beaumont, friend of Trevor said: “In 1989 British Rail held a seminar inviting the GRP industry to hear of the things they were going to do with GRP on trains. At that seminar, in conjunction with the late Bert Bellworthy, MD and owner of Lightweight Structures, I took the opportunity during the lunch break to call for a show of hands to see who would be interested in joining a group for GRP moulders. We had a reasonable response and it was agreed to set up a Board of Directors to get things moving.”
Ken Forsdyke another friend of Trevor’s added: “Trevor and I met when he did a consultancy job for BP Chemicals, who were my employer at the time, on the fire testing of phenolic composites. It developed into a friendship which continued to grow after I left BP Chemicals and started my own company, Fortech. Trevor approached me with the idea of an association for composite processing companies.”
Keith continued: “The initial Board of Directors was made up of four - myself, Bert, Ken and Trevor. Bert was an ex-Mayor and Councillor of Windsor and Maidenhead, so we made him Chairman and Trevor volunteered to be Secretary. He put in a lot of hard work in the early days and clearly enjoyed the opportunity the position gave him to network. One of the things we put in the constitution from the start was that all positions should come up for re-election every three years and I think Trevor was re-elected again until Ken took over in 1997, though he remained on the Board for many years after that. He was perfect for that original position of Secretary and had an eye for what was, in modern vernacular, "trending".”
This sparked the beginning of the Composites Processing Association, set up to help these small businesses thrive as one, which included Trevor and Mary attending large exhibitions like JEC World representing the smaller companies who could not afford to go themselves.
Ken concludes: “We travelled a fair bit together including an around the world trip lecturing on phenolic composites. I wrote a chapter in the book he edited called “Pultrusion for Engineers” and we wrote “Thermoset Resin Market Report” jointly. When Trevor retired, I bought Technolex from him and incorporated it into Fortech.”
Eventually, the Composites Processing Association evolved into what it is today, Composites UK, with 385 member companies now spanning the whole of the UK composites supply chain. Without Trevor’s drive for the UK composites industry we may not be where we are today.
The thoughts of Composites UK’s Board of Directors, operational team and members are with Trevor’s wife Mary, daughters Alison and Helen, and the extended Starr family.