It may have been a year of change for many, but for Mel Gumbs, there’s no change at the top as he takes the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering’s (CIPHE) National President role for a second year running. Due to the disruption caused by the pandemic, Melville Gumbs EngTech MCIPHE RP will continue for a further year as President with Dr Henry Hung EngTech HON FCIPHE RP continuing his role as Vice President.
While Mel’s original Presidential year may not have gone as planned due to Covid 19 restrictions, there’s still been a number of highlights, including podcasts and interviews with various trade magazines, plus presiding on judging panels for the Screwfix Apprentice of the year and Screwfix Trade Person of the year. For Mel, meeting and talking to the young apprentice finalists was a particular highlight.
Like many of us, Mel’s found himself embracing zoom, social media and online training as the pandemic took hold. In his speech at the close of the AGM, Mel praised the way manufacturers had made the switch to online learning and how the industry had been using social media to connect, discuss projects, showcase work and highlight bad practice. He said, “One feature of lockdown has been the rise of social media in our industry and the way plumbers and companies have used it to maintain contact with each other. There is a tremendous feel-good factor with plumbing and heating engineers on Twitter. As the lockdown continued, several key guys stood out to maintain and support fellow tradespeople.”
As Mel enters his second Presidential year, he is looking ahead at various issues affecting the sector. Of high priority is the road to net-zero, which is raising various questions round roll out, infrastructure, installer training and the maintenance of existing gas boiler stock. “As we look forward, our industry is facing the prospect of a Green Revolution. With Government pressure we are entering uncertain times (with the introduction of) heat pumps, hydrogen and electric boilers. The modern plumber is facing learning a lot of new skills just to keep working and the CIPHE’s role in helping to up-skill the industry will be pivotal.”
His speech ended by saying he hoped to see people face-to-face once again, especially at the trade shows which are reopening in the autumn. CIPHE CEO Kevin Wellman said, “The Institute is proud to have Mel and Henry at the helm as President and Vice-President for a further year. We very much hope this allows them both to experience the roles to the full. Undoubtedly both the CIPHE and the industry will benefit from their passion, energy and knowledge of the sector, through what may be very tough times ahead.”