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Tribute to past Rand Aid chairman, Iain Fraser

Iain Fraser

It is with deep sadness that Rand Aid Association learnt of the passing of Iain Fraser on 17 June 2021.

Iain was Rand Aid’s architect for many years and served on the organisation’s Board for 23 years. He joined the Board on 13 March 1997, serving as a dedicated member until April 2021. During his tenure, Iain held the post of vice chairman, and also served as chairman for two years prior to his retirement.

Iain was always very supportive of Rand Aid and its employees and always attended the organisation’s annual Long Service Awards and other events.

“From the first time I met Iain during my interview for the position of Rand Aid CEO, I found him to be an absolute gentlemen. In the short time I worked with him as chairman, I always appreciated his support,” says Rand Aid’s CEO Peter Quinn.

“Iain was committed to serving Rand Aid over many years and stood in as chairman in 2019, at relatively short notice. He had extensive knowledge of Rand Aid and was very involved in the construction of Thornhill Manor and Inyoni Creek. Iain was gracious and a true gentleman. He will be sorely missed by everyone at Rand Aid,” he adds.

Rand Aid Board member Keith du Buys says that Iain, as a member of the Board and as an architect, was able to add value to all of Rand Aid’s developments beyond his design knowledge.

“He not only understood how buildings worked, but how to make them work to best benefit the end users of Rand Aid’s villages, both residents and staff. Iain was also able to provide valuable input in the maintenance and renovations of the villages as they went through their life cycle,” says Keith.

“Iain’s input was not limited to his professional knowledge. As a person of great empathy, he could always be relied upon to give pertinent and constructive advice on the many variable issues that arise out of the operation of an organisation like Rand Aid. He managed to get his views across in a non-confrontational manner which earned him the deserved respect of his fellow board members,” he adds.

Iain was Brett Savvides’ business partner, friend and mentor. Brett first met Iain in 1989, when he was a partner at Neill Powell Neill (NPN) Incorporated and Brett was employed at the company to complete his year of practical training.

Iain had previously worked for a few architects, including Lord Holford in the UK, before joining NPN in 1979. He was soon made associate and then partner. Later, he became Managing Director of Neill Powell Neill Architects (Pty) Ltd, a position he held until his retirement in 2013. He was also a member of the Institute of South African Architects, Royal Institute of British Architects and the Association of Arbitrators.

“In 1992, I returned to NPN and was assigned to Iain’s team for the completion of an office complex in Sandton. We worked well together and subsequently joined forces in undertaking a number of projects over the next 20 years. During his time at the practice, Iain was responsible for projects far too numerous to mention, including large office complexes, warehouses, industrial buildings, pharmaceutical facilities, hospitals, schools and retirement villages including Nazareth House and Rand Aid,” says Brett.

Iain was a member of the Rand Club and was also the Club Architect. As a committee member, he oversaw the renovation of the external facades and the restoration of the building after the fire. “I spent many a convivial afternoon at the club as Iain’s guest, after a lunchtime talk and meal,” says Brett.

Iain was renowned for his comprehensive and accurate documentation on projects.

“Many years after Iain had retired, I had cause to refer to minutes done by him and naturally found the carefully recorded information I was looking for.

“At one stage, he was humorously given the nickname ‘cut and paste’ because of his skills in endlessly cutting up his previous drawings and splicing in new revisions, using metres and metres of magic tape and copious amounts of correction fluid in the process. For this, he also made extensive use of the photocopier, which invariably did not operate as instructed and was unceremoniously given a well-timed kick. Most of our machines bore the evidence of contact with Iain’s foot,” says Brett.

Brett and Iain often attended site meetings and inspections together. The trip back to the office was always via the scenic route, with Iain enthusiastically pointing out his latest architectural finding or other interesting landmark, together with a fascinating story about it.

Iain was well-read and had a keen interest in history and travel.

“I admired his ability, at will, to relate historical episodes including facts, figures and dates. He had a comprehensive collection of maps from the AA. As soon as he heard I was going on holiday somewhere he would present me with a map for the trip. I still have them,” says Brett.

“Upon hearing I was going to London for the first time, he painstakingly prepared a small booklet for me with all the popular tourist attractions listed, complete with maps and descriptions – all carefully embellished with his usual pink and blue highlighter. Years later, when Iain was in London for a Masonic event, I joined him for the weekend and together we revisited many of those favourite spots. He will be missed. He will live on in our memories and will not be forgotten,” he adds.

Iain will be sorely missed by his wife Pam, his children Brenda and Keith and the rest of his family.

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