Our series of photographic portraits by Neill Menneer shows Bath people at work

I was brought up in Surrey and I went to Farnborough Hill Convent School, although both my parents were originally from Bristol. It was probably for this reason that I gravitated towards the west country and Bath when I chose to study at university.

I had originally wanted to study maths, physics and needlework at A level but my careers teacher wisely persuaded me to drop the needlework. She recognised that as well as a love of science I had a practical bent and suggested that engineering would possibly satisfy this creative urge. Ted Happold was the head of department in the engineering faculty in Bath when I went there in 1988. An inspirational character, Ted was a big influence in my engineering life. He encouraged team collaboration and was very skilled at drawing out people’s strengths. He was also an amazingly innovative engineer and often joked that the Pompidou Centre was designed on his kitchen table.

I have always wanted to learn new things and experience different approaches so after three years at Buro Happold I then went to work at Whitby Bird in Walcot Street followed by a further couple of years at Architen who were fabric structures contractors in Wrington. They specialise, as their name suggests, in tensile tent-like structures with canopies, like the covered stand at Bath Rugby. I gained valuable lessons and insights there and understood from the contractor’s perspective how disciplined and thorough one needs to be when specifying designs.

These lessons would help me enormously when I returned to Buro Happold in 2001. Since I’ve been with the company we have been involved in some exciting and world beating projects including the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, The Olympic Stadium and The London Cable Car Project. Locally we have completed the Hayesfield School expansion and the tree top walkway at Westonbirt.

We continue to work with Dyson in Malmesbury, on the Bath South Quays Project and the renovation of Newark Works (where Neill took the picture). As BH’s business development leader in the south west I am excited about the future in Bath. Major projects such as Bath North and South Quays, the redevelopment of the Mineral Hospital and the redevelopment at Bath Rugby are all poised to start in the coming year. This is incredibly positive for Bath building on the heritage of our city with high quality buildings to enhance our city.

The Bath Quays projects will create a business area linked to the city centre via a new bridge. These multi-million pound projects will generate new river amenity space, start-up premises for small businesses and large office space for more established business wanting to move or expand.

On a more personal note I get involved in projects closer to my home in Camden. We have a beautiful landscaped garden nearby, the Millennium Green near St Stephen’s Church for which I am the treasurer. The land was purchased to save the allotments in 1998 and the trustees and friends run events to fund the maintenance of the gardens, a highlight of which is the Lansdown open garden day in May. You can fund-a-day for £20 to help with the gardening.

I recently rejoined the Minerva Rowing Club (now in Newbridge) as we are introducing the sport to our children. With the inspirational gold medallist Helen Glover as our patron they too might well be rowing for Britain one day.

PORTRAIT: NEILL MENNEER AT SPIRIT PHOTOGRAPHIC. VISIT: CAPTURETHESPIRIT.CO.UK, TEL: 01225 483151.