Back in September 2018, the BBC broadcast a two part TV series entitled “DIY SOS: Grenfell”. This ambitious build, on a previously derelict site under the A40, was to provide a new home for the Grenfell boxing club and a new community centre, both of which were destroyed in the tragic fire.
In February 2018, specialist fire engineering division, Hall & Kay were invited to take part in the programme. Given the nature of the project, being responsible for the design and installation of the sprinkler systems which would safeguard building users, was obviously a huge responsibility – as well as an honour. After meeting with DIY SOS and Galliard Homes, H&K designed and submitted recommended proposals to ensure the sprinkler system would suit the environment and the needs of its users. They then began the task of project managing its installation, in both buildings, from inception to installation.
Dale Youth Boxing Club has had a massive impact on local youngsters for over 50 years, starting the careers of James de Gale, who won an Olympic gold medal in Beijing, and George Groves, current WBA super middleweight champion, as well as producing many national champions. The club had been housed in Grenfell Tower since 1999, but a few months before the tragic fire, moved into a newly refurbished space at the bottom of the tower as part of the fateful fit-out of the building.
The community centre had also been a hub for many different groups, such as a West Indian Dominos Group and mental health providers - groups who will be needed now more than ever, to provide a vital support network in the aftermath of the fire.
As Richard King, H&K Operations Director South explains, working on a DIY SOS Big Build, certainly comes with challenges:
“As you can imagine, the key to success is being able to collaborate well and adapt to change. Plans and deadlines were constantly shifting and with so many other trades and companies involved, you have to be flexible and find ways to make it work.
The build provided many firsts for the DIY SOS team and ourselves, including the challenge of building under a motorway, using steel construction. It was a tough ask, but we were proud to be involved in such a worthwhile cause and enjoyed meeting Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, who spent time onsite and spoke to our foreman Tony Verrier.”
Overall, the value of the consultancy and installation work that Hall & Kay donated to the project was in the region of £40,000 – £50,000, and included a team of eight staff, who worked more than 500 man hours to ensure it was ready for the initial reveal on 28th May.
“We are proud to have been involved and delighted that our contribution will leave a lasting legacy for the Grenfell Tower community, for many years to come.”
The Duke of Cambridge meets the team.