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Regiment Sgt Major Gavin Groves joins Southern, Chichester College and the charity Building Heroes
Regiment Sgt Major Gavin Groves joins Southern, Chichester College and the charity Building Heroes

Press release -

Southern Rail and Building Heroes join forces to help ex-servicemen back into work

Southern Rail has teamed up with charity Building Heroes to upskill its new maintenance team and at the same time help ex-servicemen and women back into work (see case study in editor’s notes).

Building Heroes works with Chichester College to put military veterans through an intensive five-week course which gives them a Level 1 foundation course in property maintenance from where they can find work.

Working in partnership with the charity, Southern is putting its own newly-formed in-house maintenance team through the same training, which helps towards the cost of the charity’s training. In addition, Building Heroes graduates will also be considered for any vacancies in Southern’s team.

On Friday, 6 December, the partners celebrated the graduation of the first Southern employee together with 12 ex-servicemen at Southern’s new maintenance depot in Horsham. The depot features a workshop with industrial woodwork and metalworking equipment which will allow Southern to better maintain its stations.

Keith Jipps, Infrastructure Director at Govia Thameslink Railway which operates Southern, said: “This partnership with Building Heroes is hugely important to us as we continue our focus on transforming lives and the communities we work in.

“The course, which compresses 12 months of training into just five fantastic weeks of property maintenance learning, will help us give passengers better stations and facilities.

“This is a win-win for both of us: we can train our team to new levels of professionalism and provide some funding for Building Heroes to help them with their excellent support of ex-servicemen and women.

“I also expect our collaboration to lead to job opportunities for the veterans who have served this country. After all, we know they will have received training in the very skills we are looking for.”

Building for Heroes CEO Brendan Williams said: “This is an important partnership for Building Heroes, creating job opportunities for our military learners. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Southern Railway.”

We declare Horsham maintenance depot open! Karen Jefford of Building Heroes, maintenance manager Tessa Holme, and course leader Mick Sheldrick


Notes to editors

Case study

Building Heroes’ property maintenance course is becoming more popular with females looking to re-skill and move away from the more traditional office environment.

One of female learners at Friday 6 December’s graduation is Natalie Parker (pictured below), a working mum who has spent years in office-based, book-keeping roles whilst undertaking various accountancy qualifications. Despite her years of experience, it has never really made her happy.

As a military wife she was able to access the Building Heroes training (as immediate family) and has absolutely loved it. She has made the brave decision to embark upon a completely new career and her ultimate ambition is to set up her own property maintenance business.

Whilst on the course, she has excelled at every trade covered, achieved distinctions, made some useful contacts, as well as some friends for life. In addition to the practical skills training, learners are also supported with employability. Building Heroes have been able to make introductions and this lady has been offered a paid training role with a previous Building Heroes graduate who now runs his own business.

About Building Heroes

Building Heroes provides skills training to Military Veterans and support into employment in the building trades. Our aim is to tackle unemployment amongst those who have kept us safe by offering them a seamless transition to a new career in construction.

Building Heroes has graduated over 750 learners with 320 graduated in the last academic year (2018-2019). We plan to deliver over 500 places during this academic year and 1000+ in the following academic year.

The Building Heroes program is delivered across the UK with centres in Cheshire, Essex, Hampshire, Tees Valley, West Sussex and Wiltshire. For more information from Building Heroes, contact Simone Halliwell on 07849 828842.



Govia Thameslink Railway

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:

  • Thameslink – cross-London services between Bedford/Peterborough/Cambridge and Brighton/Horsham/Littlehampton/East Grinstead, and between Luton/St Albans and Sutton/Wimbledon/Rainham; plus services between London and Sevenoaks
  • Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
  • Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
  • Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria

GTR is the most punctual of the large and complex operators in UK rail according to the latest 'On Time' statistics released by the Office of Rail and Road for the 12 months to 30 September 2019, and fourth of all train operators in the UK.

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Govia Thameslink Railway
United Kingdom