Ian Pirnie – PeB 48-53

Monday 25 April 2022

Submitted by Peter Bloomfield

Ian Pirnie and I became close friends when he arrived at CH where he flourished at rugby and academically, especially in mathematics. We were both destined for service careers, he in the Royal Navy and me in the Army.  After leaving CH our career paths took us to different parts of the world and it was many years before we met again, when he was at the MOD and I was working for the defence contractor Westland.

Thereafter we kept in close touch, when he would stay with me on his visits to CH and I would visit him and his wife Sally at their wonderful house on Coniston Water, together with visits to Lords, Old Trafford and Headingly Test matches and rugby internationals at Twickenham, Murrayfield and Dublin.  We played a lot of rugby together at CH where he developed into a very handy second row forward, later playing several games for Cambridge when the legendary David Marques was on England duty.

Ian had a meteoric career in the RN as a submariner, becoming a Rear Admiral at 52 when he was appointed Chief Strategic Systems Executive in 1988 responsible for delivering the £12 billion Trident programme. He was credited with the no mean feat of achieving this massive highly political project on time and on budget, frequently briefing the Prime Minister, Cabinet and Parliamentary committees on progress.

Having joined the Navy in 1956 as an engineering officer, Ian proceeded to Pembroke College, Cambridge where he took an MA in engineering and met Sally who he married in 1958, settling in Cumbria. He then served in several nuclear ballistic missile submarines before being appointed Captain of the RN Engineering College at Manadon.

He retired from the Navy in 1993, was awarded CB and undertook a number of non executive appointments in the North West, including the Cumbrian Ambulance Trust, the Cumbria and Lancashire Strategic Health Authority and trustee of a charity for the disadvantaged in Cumbria.

Also at this time he was appointed by the Home Secretary to devise a recovery programme for the Ashworth high security psychiatric hospital on Merseyside. He  became Deputy Lieutenant of Cumbria in 2010.

Ian was a devoted Old Blue becoming a Donation Governor and always acknowledging the debt he owed CH.