WJ, a strategic delivery partner for road markings on the southern London Highway Alliance Contract (LoHAC), were recently called on to support Transport for London (TfL) by facilitating an unusual customer request.
London resident Sarah Knapp wrote to TfL with a somewhat ‘tongue in cheek’ request to see if they could facilitate a birthday surprise for her best friend Louise Laming. Louise is totally fascinated by road marking and had often stopped to watch activity on her local roads, and that interest was heightened even more with the special markings applied during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Sarah told us: “Louise’s strange interest in road marking had increased to the point of really wanting work experience to have a go herself. She had helped me through a very difficult time of my life and the least I could do was try and give her something special that we would both remember for a long time to come.”
LoHAC South is run by Kier Highways, which embraces a collaborative approach to highways management and uses WJ to provide specialist road marking services.
Led by Kier’s core services manager for LoHAC, Peter Williams, Louise and Sarah were given preparation for a personalised WJ road marking work experience with a thorough safety induction, provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and practical training within the South Croydon depot.
Once everyone was fully confident with the task ahead the WJ team took the pair out onto Purley Way, where Kier had provided a lane closure. Under close supervision to ensure their safety, Louise and Sarah were challenged to mark two directional arrows, a cycle symbol and 50m of red route lines.
Nick Aldworth, TfL’s Head of Highways, said: “We get many varied requests and feedback from the public – our most important stakeholders – and were touched that Louise was so interested in the work that we do, which ultimately keeps London’s road users safe. Of course we were happy to work with our LoHAC contractors to facilitate this ‘work experience’ and it was a great opportunity to give back some insight into the work we carry out day in and out.
We’re glad Louise enjoyed her special birthday surprise!”
Dave Clark, WJ operations manager for London contracts, reported: “This was a first for me as well as them, but we are always keen to enhance social value and engage with our stakeholders on all of our contracts, and I was pleased to support TfL and LoHAC with this initiative. Both our ‘apprentices’ were totally engaged and proved a joy to work with – and were surprisingly good considering they’d never done it before, improving at every stage.”
Louise was completely flabbergasted by the whole experience; not just at fulfilling her dream to do some road marking but also with the effort and friendliness of all involved.
In a parting comment she said: “I knew I would enjoy the experience but this has been absolutely fantastic and a hundred times better than I expected. I not only satisfied my longing to do some road marking but also learnt so much more about the practicalities of highway maintenance in London. I can’t thank TfL, Kier and the WJ team enough, what a brilliant bunch you all are.”
Hopefully Louise and Sarah will now spread the word and help our skills shortage by encouraging more women to consider the highways industry as an exciting and worthwhile career option.
Notes to Editor:
TfL has joined forces with Crossrail, the Department for Transport, Network Rail, the Women’s Transportation Seminar and Women’s Engineering Society as well as others in the transport industry to celebrate 100 Years of Women in Transport. This is being used as an opportunity to showcase the role of women in transport, encourage them into the industry, share best practice from across the industry and tackle the challenges that remain.