Reflections of a journey in lighting – September 2022 Newsletter

The Principal´s Pen

I recently devoted some time to reflect on my journey in lighting.

I started my lighting journey way back in 1971.  At that time, I was still learning about the differences between BC (Bayonet Clip) or ES (Edison Screw) globes.  I had just begun working as a sales representative for Thorn EMI Lighting (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd which was one of the main agencies in my late Father’s business.  Over time, Thorn EMI Lighting became the mainstay of the family business.

I had no option but to learn all that there was to be known about every product in the range.  It was a huge range of products.  I spent hours learning how to do manual lighting calculations and how to draw out lighting designs on an architectural drawing board.  There were no electronic calculators, all calculations were done using a slide rule.

I was determined to master every aspect of the products and technologies of the day, including airfield lighting.

The managing director of Thorn EMI Lighting at that time was a truly charismatic gentleman from London named Peter Keen.  He was dynamic and progressive.  All Thorn EMI Lighting staff which included the independent agents, who were treated equally, went out of their respective ways to excel.

In early 1975, the MD invited me to the Head Office in Industria, Johannesburg to inform me that he wanted to sponsor me to enroll for a Degree in Illumination Engineering at London South Bank University.  I was overwhelmed and jumped at the opportunity after establishing that I would be able to complete the course by Distance Learning with all lectures being provided on Cassette Tapes.  As soon as the enrolment process had been completed, the serious work began.  I completed the two year Bachelor Degree course Cum Laude at the end of the university year which was at the end of July 1977, graduating in October 1977 as a Bachelor of Illumination Engineering.

Those years were always exciting.  Thorne EMI Lighting ran a number of incentive promotions.  For several years, Thorn held the Thorn Lighting Sprints, at Gosforth Park which is now Wesbank Raceway, a motorsport facility and no longer a horse race track.  It was at the first Thorn Lighting Sprint in 1978, that the Thorn Bright Lights competition was launched.  There were six levels of travel prizes to be won in an incredible incentive promotion.  The 5th level, the second from top prize, was a one month holiday for two to the USA, the exact itinerary was left to the winner to plan.  The 6th and top prize was a three month holiday for two around the world which included travel on the QE2 and Concorde.  Thorn was a company that thought big.  All Thorn electric wholesalers were included to participate.

Here is the catch for staff.  It was not a matter of meeting sales budgets, to qualify, it would take much more.  We had sales budgets, percentage profit margins, stock turn, stock control which included no variances, creditor collection rate, creditor overdue monitoring and more.

The prize winners were announced at a stunning gala event after the race afternoon at the Thorn Lighting Sprints at Gosforth Park in 1979.  There was incredible excitement, fanfare and big screen movie type presentation, much like the Oscars.

The winners were announced from the lowest level and then on to the travel prizes which became more exciting as it went until the 5th level was announced and my name was announced as a winner of the 5th level of travel prize.  I had succeeded in every category.  My wife, Tish and I won an amazing overseas holiday first to Madrid, Spain, almost a full month travelling across America from New York to Niagara,, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New Orleans.  It was then on to Rio Janeiro before flying home to South Africa.  What was more incredible and special was the fact that two of my electrical wholesalers also won trips including their wives.

If my budget had been much bigger, it would have been possible to win that amazing around the world trip for two.  Nevertheless, Tish and I will never forget the amazing holiday of a lifetime that we enjoyed which included all airfares and hotel accommodation.  It was at a wonderful time when a US Dollar only cost us R0.76.  Yes we received USD1.26 for our South African Rand.  That is a far cry from what the exchange rate is now where we a dollar now costs us R16.80 on the day that tis was written.

Other amazing incentive promotions followed.  Of course, the old lighting technologies were boring compared to the exciting LED technologies of today. More about that in the October Newsletter.

Until next month, I wish you all great business and good health.

With best wishes

Happy Birthday to the following past & present students celebrating their Birthdays this month of September! We hope you all have a memorable day!

  • Rhydian Smith, Cape Town – 8 September
  • Livhalani Ralikhwatha, Richards Bay – 16 September
  • Dean Boyce, Cape Town – 22 September
  • Francois Du Preez, Graduate, Pretoria – 24 September
  • Hans Van Rooyen, Johannesburg – 24 September
  • Babacar Ndiaye, Dakar, Senegal – 29 September

Join us in welcoming the following new students!

  • Rinkesh Kumar, Uttar Pardesh, India – BHASL003C19 Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering Course
  • Priyanka Praful. Bangalore, India –  BHASL003C19 Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering Course

The following students are preparing to write their first or second year examinations. We wish you great success!

  • Ruben Triegaardt, Netherlands – as you prepare for the first year examinations
  • Thibault Fay, Johannesburg – as you prepare for the first year practical examination
  • Oliver Hauser, Johannesburg – as you prepare for the first year examinations
  • Martina Mantaras, Montevideo, Uruguay – as you prepare for the first year examinations
  • Eric Ceba, Gqeberha – as you prepare for the second year final examinations

Congratulations to BHA School of Lighting Students

We congratulate Katherine Stead, Q-Lite, Pietermaritzburg – Passing first year and on entering Second Year, enjoy the year!

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Upcoming Events from BHA School of Lighting

Join BHA School of Lighting’s “enLightened Community”.

Our series of industry accredited live webinars have been developed to share lighting industry knowledge with build environment professionals which cover a vast range of interesting topics from the world of lighting.

After each webinar attendees will receive access to a live recording of the webinar & a Certificate of Attendance which can be used to claim your CPD credits from your professional organisation.

Episode 9 – Diversity in Lighting – Unique Topics (CPD Activity)



  • Cost: Free of Charge
  • Date: 22 September 2022
  • Time: 5:45pm for 6pm – 7pm (SAST)
  • Presenter: Phil Hammond, BHA School of Lighting
  • About: Few people appreciate the diversity of lighting, what that diversity can offer and how it can be used to the benefit of all including fauna and flora.


CPD Activity Accreditations

BHA School of Lighting’s Webinars are accredited by the South African Institute of Architecture (SAIA), the South African Institute of Architectural Technologists (SAIAT) & the Consulting Engineers of South Africa (CESA).

Student Spotlight: Tammy Maharaj

Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing people succeeding in their endeavours. The article below is one such case.  I am so proud of what Tammy has achieved.  I know from what Tammy has told me, it has not been easy.  She has like so many people, suffered many a set back.  Her determination, steadfast faith and love for her daughters and her family, have carried her through to that point that she has reached so far.  I am positive that the summit of her career is still a long way off.

Tammy Maharaj enrolled for the Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering Course to be able to do lighting designs for her clients.  She is an accomplished interior designer.  Tammy lives in Stanger with her two delightful and supportive daughters and conducts her business under the banner of Chaleureux in Ballito. Chaleureux means hearty, enthusiastic, friendly, kind and willing to make friends.  That sums up Tammy in a nutshell, an apt name for her business.

Tammy took a significant decision to exhibit at the Decorex event held in Johannesburg at the Sandton Convention Centre recently. Below Tammy explains her experience as an exhibitioner.

The daunting task on logistics gave me sleepless nights, as all the products were fragile & expensive and were special once off pieces to launch at the show. I carefully designed the stand to allow flow and for the audience to absorb the special areas that were dressed.
I had to ensure that my contractor built it with solid structuring and safety measures in place.  We built it in Ballito – assembled it in store, tweaked till it was perfect, took it down, packed it on a truck and sent it to Johannesburg. The contractors flew up on the Monday & they had 2.5 days to put it all up, including the flooring. It was literally 2/3 hours of sleep daily. The night before the start of the event,  I set up the stand by myself, wiping every piece carefully so that the morning audience viewed the products in their full beauty.

On the opening day, the pressure was intense and the excitement was brewing to the brim.  The exhibition days were excellent. It was exciting to bring European Style and trends to South Africa.  Architects and interior decorators were truly amazed with the lighting collections & the fact that they can be modified and customized tp suit any project was the thrill factor.  Flexibility to play was present.

I have had loads of feedback from clients who are in the throws of constructing homes. All were excited to find products that one would only see on social pages.  Others said that it was like finding treasure on our stand.

We launched a beautiful bath at the show, the Verre bath collection It is transparent and available in a variety of colours with matching basins which caught a lot of attention.

Our wholesale division grew with many retail stores signing up to collaborate.

Kitchen companies have also been intrigued with our products for that area in the home.  We signed on three lifestyle showrooms in Johannesburg to display the lighting collections in their showrooms.

We are thrilled to have been selected to design and supply our products in part of a ballroom being designed in Kenya. We have also been carefully handpicked to design two homes in London in February 2023.

I must express my utmost gratitude to my family for being my pillar of strength and for girls for being so responsible and amazing when Mummy is away travelling.

In everything I have to say I am truly blessed to have the hand of God on me, as he gives me strength and courage to bring all these beautiful pieces together.

BHA SCHOOL OF LIGHTING – 2 September 2022
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