PriDE manages Defence Infrastructure Organisation’s South East Regional Prime Contract (SE RPC). Valued at around £380m, the SE RPC is one of five regional prime contracts currently in place in the UK.
For over 200 years the Household Troops have guarded the Sovereign and Royal Palaces across the country’s capital. Whilst the guards stand in front of some of the world’s most famous and historical buildings, their accommodation inside the palaces was inadequate. PriDE is responsible for maintaining the guardrooms and with additional funding, London’s MNW team has worked hard to improve the conditions of the guardrooms and the transformation means they have gone from poor to palatial!
Behind the scenes at the palaces
Behind all the grandeur of Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace lie the rather small, dark guardrooms which home the 18 soldiers who serve at the palaces on 48 hour shifts. The Palaces SER, Sgt Gerry Kelly stated the guardrooms were ‘grim, dingy and dirty’.
The state of the guardroom was of concern to DE and Sgt Kelly so following several visits to site money was requested to make the necessary improvements; £294k was allocated from the Estate Improvement Programme 07/08. After consultations with DE FM’s Jocelyn Enfield, John Whiting and Julie Chapman, the project was handed from Core Services to PriDE’s MNW team were brought in to bring the accommodation up to standard.
Showers are a sure-fire win!
The biggest impact has been the installation of Taplan showers, which are self-contained pods. There were previously many issues with leaking, but these have been eradicated and the showers are now hotel standard, capable of withstanding continuous use from the soldiers. The lighting in the showers is much better, and the units are completely private. The importance of showers to soldiers is often underestimated, but after being on duty in the scorching heat wearing tunics and bearskins, a good shower is essential. One soldier commented that the facilities are now so good he showers four times a day!
So what work has been carried out to make the accommodation ‘fit for purpose’?
Problems in the Palace!
It wasn’t quite as straightforward at St James’s Palace, as there was insufficient alternative sleeping space for soldiers. Therefore the contractors had to work around the soldiers who were moving barriers to find a place to sleep. It was a chaotic time, but the end result was worth it!
‘Comfort equals a happy soldier’
Sgt Kelly explained that the better conditions you provide for a soldier, the better they look after it. And this certainly appears to be the case at the palaces. St James’s was completed in April and Buckingham Palace in June 2008 and the barracks still look immaculate; there has been a reduction in the number of core services calls to the help desk.
The improvement work has received so much praise from the customer that Interserve’s Executive Director, Bruce Melizan and Finance Director, Simon Ashdown, decided to go along to see what PriDE’s team has been up to! In August MNW Manager Steve Whitlock, and Area Manager Carl Reid, took Bruce and Simon on a tour of the work, along with Allan Key and Sgt Kelly. The day was a great success and Bruce was very impressed with the standard of work.
Bruce Melizan commented:
"A great example of proactive planning and execution by the PriDE, DE and the Army. The work the team has carried out here is a wonderful achievement; it has clearly had a huge impact on the lives of the soldiers. The customer is obviously satisfied and I am very proud of our team".
Sgt Kelly stated:
" It’s often a mind over matter situation – if you are living in a clean and bright space, then you feel clean! So the improvements have had a huge impact on the soldiers. "
The work took seven months to complete in total, which is a great achievement considering the guardrooms are occupied 24/7 and access to the palaces is extremely difficult.
PriDE has had a string of successes for the awards cabinet!
Gold Medal RoSPA Award for Occupational Health and Safety 2012.
British Institute of Facilities Management Judges’ Special Recognition Award 2011.
To view more information about our awards, click here