We have received the sad news that Roger Wickens, group technical manager of Loxam's powered access division - formerly Lavendon - passed away earlier today following a courageous 17 month battle with cancer. He was just 61 and eight weeks short of completing 30 years’ service with the company - the longest serving male employee within Nationwide Platforms.
Wickens began his 40 year career as a trainee mechanic working on the transport fleet of Starch Products, in 1980 he joined Greenham Plant Hire as a service engineer for aerial work platforms, followed by a short spell at the Colnbrook depot of Isis plant before, rejoining Greenham, which was later merged with Scott Crane Hire after the Scott brothers acquired Greenham's crane and aerial lift operations to create Scott Greenham, later becoming SG Aerial Platforms - which were based at Alfreton, Derbyshire. The business was then acquired by BET and he was appointed as national service manager shortly before the business was merged with PTP - following its acquisition by BET - where he worked mostly with JLG, Grove Manlift, Marklift and Benford products.
In 1989 he joined Nationwide Access - as it was then - as national service manager based in Scunthorpe, at the time the company ran a fleet of just 200 units, mostly Genie booms and UpRight scissor lifts. The business had only recently been acquired by David Price and his new company Lavendon - supported by CinVen - in a Management Buy In. As the business expanded he played a significant role in the technical integration of several UK, Belgian and German acquisitions, and the later launch of operations in Dubai, Spain, Hong Kong and France which led him to his final role as the group technical manager of Loxam's powered access division, following its acquisition of Lavendon in 2017.
During his career he also worked closely with powered access manufacturers to develop new products and technical enhancements, while being, actively involved with IPAF and later joined the European Rental Association’s Technical Committee.
He was an avid collector of crane and aerial lift models amassing a collection of around 100 cranes and more than 250 platforms, he eventually had to curb this hobby, due the rising costs of the models and space limitations. He would often dismantle new models and painstakingly repaint them in a company colours, complete with miniature decals.
He met his wife, Anne James when she joined Nationwide Access in 1996, they became a couple in 1997, but did not get married until 2004. As well as Anne, he leaves behind two step children, Lauren and Richard.
Loxam's Don Kenny said: “Our sadness and grief is compounded by our concern and thoughts for Anne. Both she and Roger have been an integral part of the Lavendon story and they are well known figures in the company and wider powered access industry. It is a truly sad day for our organisation.”
Roger Wickens was one of the ‘good guys’, modest, quiet, yet exceptionally knowledgeable, and always interested in finding ways to improve safety and good practice. While he could hardly be described as ‘larger than life’ or ‘exuberant’, he was highly knowledgeable and had a dry yet highly tuned and well developed sense of humour. He had a subtle and engaging smile which lit up his face, when relaying an observation or piece of information that he clearly found ridiculous or nonsensical without ever saying so. In the hope that you might take up the fight, although he never directly suggested such action.
In this way he played a more substantial role in the development of new product standards, than is appreciated, all too often he would simply point out or highlight issues to others whom he knew would take up the issue in a more forceful way than he could, and yet if he cared about an issue he was more than able to fight his corner in a highly determined and effective manner, without ever getting heated or unpleasant. In fact he came over as simply wanting to solve the issue. It seemed at times that he underestimated the respect that he was held in and therefore how much ‘real power’ he wielded.
The industry has lost a kind, warm and intelligent individual, a true gentleman. He was missed already, but more so now that we know he will not be making a comeback.
Rest in peace Roger
We will publish the funeral arrangements as soon as we have them.
UPDATE FROM Ann Wickens
The Late Roger Wickens
Following the loss of my beloved Roger on 17th May, I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone: family, friends and work colleagues (both present and past) – for all your support and care, the numerous cards and letters, your messages, the wonderful tributes to Roger on both Linked-In and Vertikal – including Vertikal’s own touching comments, the flowers, and the plants and roses which will be lasting reminders of a truly wonderful man.
Thanks to everyone who attended Roger’s funeral on 10th June, it was good to see so many of you there to say a final goodbye to him. Roger was a very special person to so many people in so many ways.
Last, but not least, a huge thank you for the donations to Cancer Research UK in Roger’s memory. Donations given at his funeral and those via his JustGiving page currently total £1,602.41. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.