A tribute to David Hough


David’s family announced his passing on May 23.

He joined the staff and team of the then Ship and Boat Builders National Federation during the late nineteen sixties and was given the opportunity to head the boating industries export department. Seizing his opportunity, he took advantage of the government’s drive to increase the boating industry’s and country’s export market. He led his small team with zeal and enthusiasm to coordinate with the DTI for SBBNF members to become involved at overseas boat shows alongside trade missions to almost every country involved with boating activities.

The industry’s exports expanded to record levels for the next ten years throughout the nineteen seventies, with increasing numbers of exhibitors from the London Boat show and SBBNF members keen to participate in overseas activities; including successful trade missions to the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan.

The results were astonishing during this period. David Hough invited DTI managers with their show and designers to travel with him to the industry’s yacht yards and production facilities to give them an insight to the industry’s backbone and abilities. Needless to say, David’s efforts encouraged many members of the government arm to become involved assisting members with designs and participation; many of them remarking not all industries and applicants involved themselves by taking advantage of DTI assistance. During those years DTI staff became regular visitors to the industries boat shows and yachting events throughout the country.

By the end of the nineteen seventies, David’s leadership of his department saw British Boating Industries participating at all European Boat Shows from its main show in London’s Earls Court to Stockholm, Oslo, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Paris, Hamburg, Dusseldorf and Genoa to name the main venues. Further afield, he was responsible for our presence at the Miami and Annapolis boat shows in the United States.

By the end of this period David realized his plans were fulfilled with British products being the main showcase at all these events. SBBNF members putting their energies into the British export project were rewarded by increasing sales benefitting not only their companies but enhancing the British boating industry.

The retirement of the London Boat Show’s first exhibition manager in 1979, Alan Jones, the London Boat Show board needed to look no further for a replacement than David Hough, their successful Export manager.

David brought his zeal and enthusiasm to his new department. The London Boat Show was a successful boat show for twenty four years with ten day attendance figures over the period for each year averaging a quarter of a million, the venue had become dull, particularly for exhibitors and staff regularly working at the show. David’s first words were remembered by all who heard his remark; ‘Right, this show needs tidying up.’

What he meant was, coir matting for carpets on exhibitors stands bordered by margin boards over which people tripped and injured themselves had had their day. However, it wasn’t easy for a transformation to happen. Budget restraints prevented the event becoming a showcase display to continue attracting world visitors. David was determined to succeed and it took three years plus to overcome powerful financial controllers eager to hold on to every penny to show profits for their books.

Gradually, over three years of his directorship, the Earls Court Boat Show was transformed into the showcase of his of his plans and dreams. Every accessible floor space of the show was covered by colorful heugafelt tiles; offering the opportunity to colour-code and categorize the show in sections. The London Boat Show became the most colorful and important showcase of all boat shows.

David was at the helm steering the purchase of the Southampton Boat Show which was already successful in its own outdoor venue but again required ‘tidying up’. In addition, David introduced the only two successful Brighton Boat shows at their then colourful marina. However, in spite of this success, it wasn’t to last because the boating industry couldn’t manage two outdoor boat shows on the country’s south coast; one had to give and it was the more established and successful Southampton show winning the day.

David’s decision to change direction in his career left a rich legacy of success for his successors in the British Marine Federation, as it is now known.

David Hough made his life and reputation a success by focusing on the tasks before him. He made his personal life a success by hard work over thirty five years at the British Marine Industry. He led a team of happy staff most of whom remained with him for an average of fifteen years. He was missed by the team and industry when he changed direction for a new career at the National Game show; a biannual country event held at estates throughout the United Kingdom.

David Hough’s passing ended an era of one of the great personalities of his time at the heart of the British Marine Industry. Those people who met him briefly will always remember his willingness to assist and help with their problems. There was a concealed dryness in his humour but it was secondary when he had a job to do, not for his own sake but for the success for the task given him and for his family; likewise, we know David’s family was always alongside him in his life and work, they were never secondary. We know he cherished them and above all else, it is they who will be missing him most, and we must remember this at this time.

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