A personal message from Duncan Pearce (Director)
It is with profound sadness that I record here the passing of George Lucian Xuereb Brennan on Thursday 30 September 2021 at the age of 69. George was the man responsible for setting up Brennan Associates in 2009 and oversaw our first decade of growth.
George was a dedicated husband, father, grandfather, and brother, he always put family first. He was also a fiercely proud professional man who undertook his work with a profound sense of responsibility and absolute integrity. His work ethic was like no other I have ever seen, and his thoughts were always with the welfare of others. There is a huge vacuum left by his departure.
George Xuereb was born at the British Military Hospital in Benghazi on 13 December 1951 and was the third of four children born to Maltese parents George Xuereb and May Xuereb (nee Brennan). George was an instant family success, and his elder sister Vicki recalls in her book ‘Beyond the Ghibli’ how their father was beside himself with pride at his birth. Vicki herself would rush home from school to play with her little brother who became affectionately known as Giorgio.
Giorgio spent his young childhood in Benghazi where his father ran a family-owned factory, and his mother was a teacher. At the age of two, he was joined by his younger sister and play companion Alex and was always there to protect her. Life in Benghazi at this time was not easy with a constantly changing political and economic environment. At the age of eight, George began his education at St Edward’s College in Malta where he boarded during term time. Here he received a classical education and followed in the footsteps of his older brother Jo, who had also attended. It was here that George also showed some of his drive and ambition by becoming Captain of the School. He built lifelong friendships and continued to attend reunions at the school throughout his life.
George had Irish heritage through his mother’s side and the connection to the country meant that George always considered himself to be both Irish and Maltese. Because at the time of his birth Malta was a self-governing territory of the UK George first carried a British passport before, in 1966, taking that of Malta. Like his brother, on leaving school George went on to study in Ireland where he arrived in 1971 becoming an Irish citizen in 1977. In this time, he attended the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology before transferring to the Dublin Institute of Technology where he was awarded his qualifications in Civil Engineering with credit in 1975.
George met Helen, his future wife at a local dance in Galway in 1972. Here he impressed her with his ‘exotic’ looks, probably one of his many hats, and his car, which had been borrowed from his sister Vicki. Having given Helen a lift back to the family farm situated on the rolling hills above Galway he was immediately introduced to Helen’s brother Gerald and future sister-in-law Neasa. George and Helen were inseparable from this day on and were married at Galway Cathedral in 1975, they honeymooned on the ring of Kerry staying at the Great Western Hotel Kenmare.
George’s first professional jobs were taken in Dublin between 1975 and 1983 where he gained a firm grounding in civil and structural design. Notable work included being the project engineer on a number of new secondary schools such as New Ross and Thomastown. He was also responsible for the design of the structural aspects of several large civil engineering projects including providing the structural design for all of the substations along the Dublin Area Rapid Transit trainline.
It was in Dublin that George and Helen’s first child Nicholas was born in 1978. Karen followed in 1981 and the small but perfectly formed family was complete. In 1983 George and Helen adopted the Brennan name. While there were obvious practical advantages to being named Brennan rather than Xuereb in 1980s Ireland, I believe the change of name also marked the respect and love held by George and his siblings for their mother May.
In 1983 George was seconded to Mott Hay & Anderson (now Mott McDonald) as resident engineer, firstly for projects in London but also for the design and supervision of construction of a very large university campus in Misurata, Libya. He was joined in Libya by his family who have vivid memories of the experience.
George briefly worked in Dublin in 1985 before being forced to relocate again because of the national economic situation. In 1986 George settled in St Albans where the family would make their home. He joined A de Vine & Associates as Principal Engineer before moving to Maslen Shutler Associates as an Associate where he rapidly progressed to become partner of what became known as Maslen Brennan Henshaw. It was here that George diversified further and trained as a surveyor in order to better integrate with his increasingly multidisciplinary roles within the business. During this time his dedication to his work was recognised widely and he was asked to represent the Russian Government at meetings in the Pentagon as part of the second round of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. He also worked on projects in Belgium and was sent by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to investigate and report on the condition of the Consulate building in Havana, Cuba.
George retired from Maslen Brennan Henshaw in June 2009 to set up Brennan Associates with his wife Helen. Although known as Brennan Associates the business was registered under the name of Forensic Surveys Ltd. The two names say something hugely important about George’s approach to life which was always carefully split between his dedication to family and commitment to professional standards. George successfully grew Brennan Associates from the office he built, and later extended, in the garden of his home in St Albans. The beauty of a home office for George was the ability to mix his two true loves, his adoring and devoted wife Helen, and his work.
Brennan Associates became known for providing high quality advice on a wide range of construction and property related matters. It was at this office where old and new faces came to work alongside George and in 2017 George was joined on a permanent basis by his son-in-law Duncan and daughter Karen. There followed a hugely enjoyable and successful period for the business in which we also expanded by opening an office in Essex. In 2018, George decided to finally hang up his engineering and surveying boots and in September 2019 George and Helen stepped down as directors of the company.
Retirement was, for George, finally a time in life to relax and rediscover his passion for life, good food and wine. Although curtailed by the Covid pandemic George made the most of his time with his wife and family and had great plans for long holidays and relaxation. This did not mean George stopped thinking about work and he was a regular sounding board on technical matters for us at Brennan Associates. George missed his work so much that he was planning a hugely popular return to part time work with two of his longstanding corporate clients when he was struck down with illness.
In the 12 years I knew George he was unfailingly supportive of me, and his loss brings with it immeasurable pain. Professionally George was a kind, considerate and knowledgeable mentor from whom I learnt my trade and have flourished. He also emotionally helped and endorsed the relocation of the business to Worcestershire in late 2020 so that Karen and I could maximise our life near my family. George has been the most amazing father-in-law and I will always remember him as my trusted friend and confidante. I miss him hugely but the support he gave me will sustain me for the rest of my life.
George lives on in the memory of his adoring wife Helen, son Nick, daughter Karen, brother Jo, sisters Vicki and Alex and their partners and children. His grandchildren Holly, Anna, Joe and Millie miss their Nannu tremendously and carry his memory forward into the future.