Over 30 years ago, our Senior Quantity Surveyor Alison DuBock began a career in construction as a trainee, fresh out of uni. At first, Alison thought an industry ‘dominated by men’ would be a challenge, but it is a career path pursued nonetheless, even with her brother telling her that it is no career for a female. This was the eighties, after all, and construction has always changed with the times.
When thinking of a man’s industry, construction might be your first guess. The industry reputation has preceded it in various media tropes on our screens for decades, including in the Tom Hardy film Locke, and as Tim ‘The Tool Man’ Taylor in sitcom Home Improvement, which both present construction sites as male spaces heavily featuring common male stereotypes, with no girls to be seen.
If we are to mention stereotypes though, front-line work on building sites may not be seen as the most glamourous place for the more feminine lady, and besides the discussion of possibly introducing a hot pink high-vis jacket, stereotypes will be left out of this blog.
In 2021, women are as much a part of construction as men.
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At Deeley Group, we have female designers (architectural and structural), quantity surveyors, buyers, site managers, site engineers, and trainees, to name but a few. Although the gender gap regarding on-site trades has shortened in recent years, it is closing nonetheless; there is no reason a woman can’t be a bricklayer! is what Alison should’ve told her brother back in the day.
To combat pre-conceptions of women in construction, we have been holding talks in schools and FE colleges about the topic, exploring how enjoying making things in GCSE Technology classes is enough experience to start taking steps towards one day being a part of the construction of a skyscraper, and that girls should not be scared or intimidated by what’s believed to be the ‘male culture’ on sites, as there are now vast amounts of rules and regulations to enforce respect for everyone.
Construction is grassroot, by explaining that we are not a ‘dirty industry’ as blockbuster films would like to refer to us as, and showing that it can be attractive, we at Deeley are trying to improve notions in future generations. Alison has been inspiring young girls to pursue a career in our industry for some time now, giving lectures to school-aged kids, promoting traineeships to soon-to-be school leavers and telling them facts such as how construction changes everyday, that no matter which role you acquire no two days are the same and that pride is a large factor in our line of work; when you see a development you had a hand in coming together is what makes her feel immensely proud, and then being able to drive by a development years later and saying ‘that there is my building’ is the cherry on top.
Of course, I had to ask if she had a specific building in mind when referring to this, and she mentions the first building she worked on, the old AXA Assurance tower in Coventry city centre, a centrepiece for the town in which she put together the golden carpet walling wrapped around it (a first for the city), which is still in use today, over 3 decades later, as student accommodation.
Alison’s advice for girls considering possibly getting into the industry: confidence is key, give as good as you get, but on a respectful level. It is an endearing industry, as all you’ll mainly need to join is maths and English skills, but the most important skill you can have is common sense. Hollywood should make a film about that.
The Starley Sportive, which will be held on Sunday, September 19, has been backed by Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street – the man behind the Starley Network, a 500-mile cycling network for the region.
Andy Street joined representatives from organisers the Deeley Group and Coventry Road Club ahead of this year’s event.
Both the sportive and the cycling network are named in honour of the Starley family.
James Starley is known as the father of the bicycle industry, while John Kemp Starley widely considered the inventor of the modern bicycle. Both worked and lived in Coventry.
Organisers of the Starley Sportive are committed to encouraging more people to get on their bikes and take advantage of the Starley Network, which has seen cycle routes and cycle lanes pop up across the West Midlands.
They are also hoping to have a rider take on the route on a West Midlands Cycle Hire bicycle on September 19.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “We launched the Starley Network in August 2020 and cycling has a vital role in the future of our transport plans not only in Coventry but across the West Midlands.
“Alongside the creation of nearly 500 miles worth of routes, our ambitious cycling plans rest on encouraging more people to get out on two wheels and experience our region.
“Charity cycling events, such as the Starley Sportive here in Coventry, are essential to drive more people to embrace the cycling revolution.”
The Starley Sportive will set off from Deeley Group head office on Herald Avenue and riders will be raising money for The Myton Hospices, Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice and University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire Charity.
John Eburne, president of Coventry Road Club, said: “Cycling is fantastic for physical and mental wellbeing and we applaud Andy Street’s impact in making it easier for people across our city to take up cycling.
“While our event is focused on raising funds for our chosen charities, we do also place great importance on encouraging more people into the sport as part of our Coventry Road Club activities.”
Eleanor Deeley, deputy managing director of the Deeley Group, added: “As a company we are committed to promoting healthier lifestyles for our staff and within the communities in which we work.
“We would like to thank Andy Street for coming down to learn more about the event and we look forward to continuing to work with him and Coventry Road Club to shout about the benefits of cycling across the region.”
To find out more about the Starley Sportive visit www.starleysportive.co.uk/
PICTURE CAPTION: John Eburne, Eleanor Deeley and Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street.
Nightingale Gardens is at the 16-home Moreton Edge development being completed by Midlands-based Deeley Homes on the edge of the town.
The Cotswolds MP returned to the development which he last visited in December 2020 to learn about its success and reveal the new road name.
Moreton Edge has seen more than 80 per cent of its plots reserved off plan and the first home will be completed in autumn.
The ‘Nightingale Gardens’ name pays homage to the tireless efforts of staff in the NHS and healthcare professions over the course of the pandemic.
It also recognises the history of the brownfield site and the former hospital which stood there.
Each of the 16 homes at Moreton Edge are also named after significant local people and locations – ranging from benefactors of the Moreton Hospital and renowned poets, to hidden treasures of the Cotswolds such as Kiftsgate Court Gardens.
Sir Geoffrey, who had a career in the property industry before his 30-year political career, said: “The development has come on leaps and bounds since I last visited and it is fantastic to hear of the success it has seen at such an early stage.
“It is very fitting that Deeley Homes has named the road as a way of thanking the NHS for the incredible work it has done for all of us during the pandemic.
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“The development will be a great addition to the community here in Moreton-in-Marsh and I look forward to continuing to follow its progress as the first homes are completed later this year.”
Deeley Homes is part of Midlands-based Deeley Group which previously built the Co-Op on Moreton-in-Marsh High Street in the 1980s.
Moreton Edge features three two-bedroom cottages at the front of the development, ranging through to a three-storey, five-bedroom house at the rear of the site overlooking open countryside.
Peter Hartill, Chairman of the Deeley Group, added: “Sir Geoffrey has been a great supporter of our Moreton Edge development and we would like to thank him for officially unveiling the Nightingale Gardens road name.
“We wanted to recognise the vital role the NHS has played in supporting the country throughout the last 16 months while also giving the road name a historic link to the former Moreton-in-Marsh hospital.
“These homes will be a great asset for the local community and the early demand we have seen has proved there is a desire for high-quality, stylish homes in the area.”
Moreton Edge is being marketed by Oliver Knight New Homes.
For more information on the development visit www.deeley.co.uk/homes/our-developments/moreton-edge/
PICTURE CAPTION: Left to right – Peter Hartill and Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP.
The Starley Sportive raised more than £10,000 last year, despite the event taking place virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. Organisers are hoping for a huge turnout this year and are expecting to raise even more money with more than 300 participants already signed up.
The Myton Hospices will be one of three main beneficiaries for this year’s event, which takes place on Sunday, September 19, alongside Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice and University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire Charity. Participants are also encouraged to raise funds for important personal causes.
Ruth Tandy, Challenge and Events Fundraising Coordinator for The Myton Hospices, said: “We are delighted to be part of the Starley Sportive. It is a family-friendly local event which brings together cyclists, local artists and charities all in aid of good causes in the community.
“Our community is at the heart of everything that we do and we want to reach out to as many people as possible to let them know about our services, should they need them now or in the future.
“We have a team of 21 riders taking part and we are hoping to raise in excess of £2000. This could fund a patient specific recliner chair to enable patients to spend time out of bed with their loved ones.
“We will be there on the day to cheer our riders on and will have a stand where people can find out more about our vital work. We are really looking forward to it!”
Bethany Richardson, Community and Events Fundraiser for Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice, added: “Last year Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice were incredibly grateful to receive over £5,800 from the Starley Sportive.
“The fantastic amount raised last year and in previous years has allowed us to continue to stay open during our most testing 12 months yet, providing care and support to babies and infants with life threatening and life limiting illnesses and their families.
“The Starley Sportive is a brilliant event and we are extremely thankful for their ongoing support. Year after year they have gone above and beyond and it is so very much appreciated.
“If you would like to take part for Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice this year, please do contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org – we would be delighted to hear from you!”
Riders will set off from the Deeley Group head office on Herald Avenue, Coventry, and have the choice of challenging three distances – a 28.6 mile route, a 63.2 mile long-distance ride, or the mammoth 86.5 mile challenge.
Ian Court, Racing Secretary at Coventry Road Club, said: “The Starley Sportive has proved over the last few years that there is plenty of excitement around cycling in Coventry and Warwickshire, and a massive part of that is the incredible fundraising that we have been able to achieve.
“There are three routes once again this year to suit a range of abilities, and we would love to see as many riders as possible saddling up for one of our fantastic main charities or for a cause close to their heart.
“The virtual ride that we hosted last year was a huge success, and we are grateful to all who participated, but there is nothing like being out on the road with likeminded people. I’m sure it will be a memorable day, and would be even better if we can break our fundraising record.”
Edward Hudson, Business Development Manager at the Deeley Group, said: “With last year’s event being cancelled, it would be great to see people making the most this opportunity to do some real good for the amazing charities in our local area.
“More than an act of kindness, we expect the day to be enjoyable for all. After a difficult 12 months it’s a great opportunity to socialise and get active and we’re hoping for another huge turnout.”
PICTURE CAPTION: From left to right – Natalie Humphrey (The Myton Hospices), Ian Court (Starley Sportive), Jo O’Sullivan (Charity director, University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire Charity), Edward Hudson (Deeley Group) and Bethany Richardson (Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice).
Special guests and representatives met to officially launch the start of work on the new 80 apartment development on land off Greenwood Way at Great Western Park.
The three-storey scheme is being developed by Housing 21, a leading not-for-profit provider of Retirement Living and Extra Care for older people of modest means. It is being built by Deeley Construction and has received funding from the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth deal.
The development will provide 60 rented apartments and 20 shared ownership apartments for people over the age of 55. On site facilities will include a café/ bistro, hair salon and communal lounge for both residents and local people. Work is set to complete in December 2022, with residents due to start moving in from early 2023.
Debbie Hope, Head of Development at Housing 21, said: “We’re thrilled to have reached this exciting milestone in Didcot.
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This new development will provide much needed, high quality accommodation to support local older people and their changing needs. People have their own front door in a busy community setting, with 24/7 support from our on-site care team if needed.
“We have designed the buildings around an internal courtyard which provides plenty of important, open green space. The development is also in an excellent location close to the many facilities of Great Western Business Park.”
Councillor Jenny Hannaby, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “I was delighted to be able to attend the groundbreaking event in Didcot. Extra care housing is something I’ve felt very passionately about and have been promoting in the county for some time now. This exciting new scheme will even provide more support for residents countywide.”
Eleanor Deeley, Deputy Managing Director at Deeley Group, added: “It is great to be working in partnership with Housing 21 again and supporting older people in Didcot. This is set to be a fantastic, state of the art development constructed to the highest standards.
“We have delivered many Extra Care schemes and are proud to use our expertise to help address the housing needs of an increasingly ageing population.”
Emily Smith, Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, added: “I’m delighted to see the progress of this excellent project which will help improve the lives of our older local people.
“Extra Care housing offers an excellent way for people to stay in their local area and maintain their independence while being able to access around the clock care and support.”
For more information about Housing 21, visit www.housing21.org.uk