News

The future is here

You may remember Alex Law, a trainee Quantity Surveyor apprentice who featured in our ‘Supporting our future workforce’ news feature almost three years ago. He has been an apprentice with us for over four years and is now updating us on all the achievements over the last three years!

“After 2 years at the Aston Group I completed my Level 3 BTEC in construction and the Built Environment with a distinction * along with completing an NVQ at Havering College. From there, I went on to start the Level 4 HNC which I’m in my final year of and on track to complete the course with distinction.

Since being at Aston Group my role has grown and I have had more responsibility. Whilst working on the MTC (measured term contract) schools we were undertaking upgrade works to various schools over the Borough of Waltham Forest. Works include; emergency lighting upgrade, lighting upgrade, lightning protection works, boiler room upgrades, fire alarm upgrades and some small construction works such as office/ toilet refurbishments.

I now mainly work as the construction departments Quantity Surveyor where I primarily deal with the loft conversion programme. I begun to price some of the projects, I get all the information together to get each project started, this includes party wall agreements, task price, building control notices and construction drawings. Once the projects are up and running I do monthly claims against works complete, then once the projects are complete I am required to do a final account which closes the job.

I am also now working with the construction manager to cost various tenders from Harlow Council, Friday Hill TMO and Waltham Forest. These range in cost from £1,000 to £175,000

As I am in my final year I am currently looking at part time university courses which will take up the next 3 years but after this I will have a full degree in quantity surveying”.

Visit https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/national-apprenticeship-week-2019 for more information about National Apprenticeship Week 2019.

Championing National Apprenticeship Week 2019

Gemma Lake is one of our newest Administrative Apprentices of only 6 weeks. She’s based in our Wood Street Office in Walthamstow. This is Gemma’s journey from arriving at Aston Group through to her aims for the future.

“I originally applied for my current apprenticeship through apprenticeships.gov.uk I then had a phone call from Waltham Forest Adult Learning Centre informing me that I have been selected for an interview. The college assessed my needs and capabilities for a potential apprenticeship within Aston Group.

The interview with Aston Group went well and I found out everything I needed to know. 

When I found out I got the business admin job I came into the office and had an induction carried out as well as meeting my team. I have been allocated a mentor/buddy who will be guiding me throughout the apprenticeship programme. As well as my mentor, everyone else in the office makes me feel welcome and they assist me with day to day office tasks.

I decided to choose a business apprenticeship because I wanted to gain more knowledge and add more qualifications to my name. I have worked in many jobs before but this is my first office job and I felt an apprenticeship was an opportunity to work my way up in a company. When my apprenticeship finishes I wish to stay on and work my way up and one day hopefully become a director”. 

We welcome her into the Aston Group family and hope she fulfils her ambitions for the future.

Visit https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/national-apprenticeship-week-2019 for more information about National Apprenticeship Week 2019.

Shining a light on our Apprentice, Harry Lee

Aston Group are extremely proud of being able to support our local community by offering Apprenticeships as part of our long term contracts. In addition to providing employment opportunities, and upskilling our local people, we are contributing to growing a pool of talent that we can recruit from in the future. As the shortage of skilled tradespeople within the industry becomes more apparent, we hope that by passing on our knowledge and passion for these roles, we can ensure a diverse workforce is in place for many years to come.

Aston Group have already had many successful Apprentices, some who have gone on to become part of our Management Team. We are delighted to say that we have the same high hopes for one of our current apprentices Harry Lee, 20, who has been working with us for over six months as a trainee Quantity Surveyor.

Harry, who has a bone condition called Spondyloepiphyseal Dysplasia, studied Level 3 BTEC Construction and Built Environment at Havering College gained an Overall Grade Distinction, Distinction, Merit (DDM). He realised that he would struggle working at a physical job with his disability, so after speaking to fellow students, career advisors and family he decided to pursue a career as a Quantity Surveyor which fitted his needs better.

Harry was initially chosen by Havering College as the best candidate to put forward to Aston Group and has since been welcomed into the family. Doing an apprenticeship has allowed Harry to learn on the job whilst splitting his time studying, whilst allowing him to earn money to help support his education.

He works closely with three Quantity Surveyors at Aston Group who guide him through his day-to-day tasks. He has a great understanding of all the relevant programmes and manages his time well. He is gaining a great understanding of life on site and in the office. This opportunity has allowed him to experience real client projects working with Waltham Forest Council and L&Q. He has been involved with Planning, MS Project, account management/reconciliation, and client communication.

His Line Manager Andrea Truccas said “ Harry has continuously exceeded Manager expectations in the role of Trainee Quantity Surveyor. Harry effectively manages accounts in a proper manner, and strictly following the QS’s team instruction. He has a positive attitude, he is fast and accurate; all of the strict client deadlines have been met. Harry manages his time well and demonstrates exceptional professionalism and conscientiousness about quality of work. Harry is working well independently and is a team player.”

Harry said “My future plan is to finish my HNC with the highest possible grade I can and progress onto University and get my degree while working with Aston, I aim to become a fully qualified Quantity Surveyor.

Aston Group are excited about what the future holds for Harry, and hope that we have a long and successful partnership together.

Brightening up an area for our NHS Ambulance Crew

Aston Group, Osborne, Travis Perkins and Waltham Forest teamed up with NHS Ambulance Crew in Waltham Forest to transform a grey corner plot into a vibrant green space for staff to go and wind down after a hard shift.

The site is a base for around 150 ambulance staff providing essential care for surrounding boroughs, it was important for them to have somewhere they can sit and rest before the next call out.

The team from Astons helped the off duty Ambulance crew, who gave up their days off to help build several raised beds made from new and up-cycled materials, creating a herb bed and raised flower beds. Councillor Louise Mitchell from Waltham Forest dropped by to see the project who also provided some funds for plants.

The project was a complete success, everyone got properly involved and crew were appreciative of the support. The Paramedics were able to enjoy a pre shift coffee in the refurbished area in autumnal sunshine. They have even personalised it by painting a mural of the resident cat, Defib, on the side of the shed!

“All the staff I have seen have all said how great the place looks now. They have been saying that the plants have made such a big difference to the area compared to what it looked like before. Staff from other nearby stations said they would now consider taking their break at Walthamstow.”

Winner of the Maldon Conservation & Design Award

BUILDING CONSERVATION AND DESIGN WINNER – The Tower, Lower Burnham Road, Latchingdon

Six exemplary projects received awards in the annual categories of Building Conservation, Design, Sustainability and Nature Conservation.

The main contractor of this project was Aston Group. This award is for the residential conversion of a redundant water tower. The tower was constructed in the 1930’s out of reinforced concrete but had been redundant for over thirty years. A small ground-floor extension accommodates the entrance hall and a finely crafted timber staircase. At first-floor level, the former water tank now comprises bedrooms, bathrooms and a gym. An extension has been constructed on top of half of the water tank, creating a second-floor level. This contains an open-plan living, dining and kitchen space. The top floor is illuminated by a glazed wall facing southwest which opens onto a large balcony. The design maximises the spectacular views across the River Crouch. The new extensions have been vertically clad in red cedar and the concrete painted in a subtle grey colour. Many of the internal fittings are industrial in style to reflect the building’s former function.

The judges were hugely impressed by what they agreed was an “outstanding” scheme. Its stunning design, quality materials and appropriate detailing have resulted in a building that is both “innovative and inspirational”.

Councillor Penny Channer, Chairman of the Judging Panel, said: “Participating in these awards is one of the highlights of my year. The 2016 winners are particularly impressive, and highlight what good work is done across the Maldon District to preserve and enhance our precious natural and built heritage.”

Michael Thomas purchased the water tower with his brother. The architect for the whole scheme was Mr Thomas’s daughter, Helen Thomas.

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Credit: Landscape Photography, Ian Barnes Photography

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Paving the way forward for Whitefield Academy

Whitefield AcademyAston Group took part in the development of a new path for Whitefield Academy students to create better accessibility to their school allotments. It was a great team effort between Aston Group, Osborne Property Services and hire-company Speedy Services who between them donated machinery, materials and the man-power to build the path to the school allotments over the summer.

The allotments are built on quite a steep slope and the last part of the access involved a rough track that cut across the slope, making access difficult. The Whitefield Schools allotment has already proved its worth in terms of both fun and education, now more of their students will be able to benefit from using it.

Principal Laura Pease said “We are very grateful for the difference it will make to the lives of our children and young people. The new path makes it possible for wheelchair users to reach the allotment and makes it easier for everyone else too. If Whitefield Academy were to pay for it, our little path would have cost us £4,200.”

Read more here