‘Pioneer, innovator and good guy’: Cecil Duckworth remembered

Cecil Duckworth CBE, who started what is now Worcester Bosch, passed away peacefully at home in November 2020. He had been suffering from cancer.

After seeing a gap in the market, he borrowed £300 from his wife to start up a company first known as Worcester Engineering in 1962. He pioneered the Combi Boiler in the UK and laid the foundations from which the company grew to be the number one boiler manufacturer in the UK. He then found a good cultural fit with Bosch, and finally handed over the reins in 1996, retiring aged 59 to focus on his local community.

He then started his second career, building the Worcester Warriors into the established Premiership Rugby Club it is today, with facilities and off the pitch experiences that are the envy of the Premiership. He also worked tirelessly in the Worcestershire community helping many charities, particularly the local Acorn Hospice.

Concerned about environmental issues, he set up the Duckworth Worcestershire Trust in 1998 to get people from disadvantaged backgrounds to protect natural habitats and fund local schools. His dedication towards education and opportunities also saw the 2020 launch of the Duckworth Centre of Engineering at CIPHE Approved Training Centre, Heart of Worcestershire College.

He was also a Freeman of Worcester and chairman of the county’s cricket club.

In 2013 Cecil was appointed a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his charitable contributions to the Worcestershire community.

Worcester Bosch said: “Cecil was a unique person, an extremely talented businessman and entrepreneur, a pioneer, a visionary, an innovator, and at the same time, a dedicated family man and a caring, fun person to be around, and of course a keen supporter of the Worcestershire area.”

Among those to pay tribute was Richard Soper CBE, former chief executive of the firm. He wrote for the Journal: “Boss, friend and mentor, it is not hard to put into words that CD had such an incredible effect on my life both professionally and personally. His support and direction formed a long-lasting business, that has given me and so many of my colleagues and friends such a great start and a major effect on our careers. He built a family culture within our company which has continued to this day.”

He recalled: “We are left with so many fond and happy memories, working alongside CD in the market development of the ‘Combi’ from niche to market leading. Also, being so proud of his legacy with his tireless involvement in the local community through the Duckworth Trust and his Chairmanship of the Worcester Warriors, amongst many others.”

He concluded: “I owe so much to this great man, who opened the door to my career and was such a great person to work with and be around. Be ever in my mind and heart.”

The company he created summed up: “He was simply ‘one of life’s good guys’ and he will be sorely missed by all.”

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