Les Chatfield, the former chief operating officer of Bovis Lend Lease UK, died in hospital on Tuesday 30 January after a short illness. He was 60.

Chatfield joined Bovis in May 1967 and remained until his retirement in June 2003. During his time there he worked on many of its biggest projects, forging relationships with clients including Stanhope and Land Securities.

John Spanswick, the chairman of Bovis Lend Lease, told Building: “I was privileged to work with Les at Bovis for more than 30 years, and for the last four of those he was chief operating officer of the UK business.

“In an industry that has its share of characters, Les truly was in a league of his own. With him you got just what you saw – enthusiasm and impatience in equal measures. He had a formidable reputation and fierce determination to get things done, coupled with a real ability to get the most out of people. But Les had a softer side and cared passionately about his staff in a way that seemed totally at odds with his irascible nature.

“His no-nonsense approach earned him the respect of clients, professionals and contractors alike. I shall remember him as a dedicated colleague and a dear friend.”

He leaves a widow, Brenda, and a son, Ben. The funeral was due to take place yesterday.