Movers & Shakers: Ex-para Terry Byrne makes switch from battlefield to building site

Ex-Para Terry Byrne, 30, who has joined Persimmon Homes Essex as an assistant site manager, on Moun

Ex-Para Terry Byrne, 30, who has joined Persimmon Homes Essex as an assistant site manager, on Mount Kilimanjaro. - Credit: Archant

An injured war hero from Colchester has made the switch from battlefield to building site, as house builder Persimmon Homes continues its recruitment drive to bring hundreds of ex-military personnel into the business.

Ex-Para Terry Byrne, 30, started at Persimmon Homes Essex recently as assistant site manager.

Persimmon Homes has announced plans to employ up to 500 former Armed Forces staff to capitalise on their vast range of transferable skills.

“This is a big change for me as I’ve never done anything like it before,” he said.

“It’s a big learning curve but it’s been going really well and I am enjoying the challenge.

“I’m delighted that Persimmon Homes has taken this positive stance towards ex-servicemen and women. We have a unique background with many skills which can be utilised in other fields.”

Terry had to have part of one leg amputated after he stood on an improvised explosive device while serving with the Parachute Regiment in Afghanistan in 2008.

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But he hasn’t let his disability hold him back. The father-of-one competed for the British Paralympic cycle team and achieved world records racing in the team sprint in 2010 and 2011. He also won gold and silver medals in the team sprint and kilo at the world championships.

He is part of a three-man team hoping to become the first disabled group to successfully complete the notorious Explorers Grand Slam.

The challenge will see the trio climb the highest peaks in seven continents – as well as walking to the North and South Pole unaided.

“It’s a five-year goal but we’ve already completed Mount Kilimanjaro and Mont Blanc,” said Terry, who is due to marry his long-term partner Katie in September.

Persimmon Homes, which has developments across Essex in Saffron Walden, Colchester, Chelmsford, Romford, Aveley, South Ockendon and Grays, is working with Nordic Focus Training, to retrain people from the Army, Royal Navy and RAF in construction roles.

Group chief executive Jeff Fairburn said: “We worked hard over the course of 2014 to develop this programme to help us meet a shortage of much-needed skilled tradesmen across the UK.

“Last year we appointed a dedicated ex-military resettlement specialist, Tommy Watson, to spearhead the programme and we began welcoming the first of our new employees in October. We are already on course to bring 500 new people into the business in 2015 and if our growth continues, we will repeat this in 2016.”

: : Louise King has joined agricultural, construction and horticultural machinery dealer Ben Burgess as part of the continued expansion of its construction sales team. Louise is currently based at Newmarket, but will in time move to the Ellington depot.

Louise has worked with Hitachi machinery for many years in varied roles, which assists in making her an excellent addition to the team as Ben Burgess continues to develop and expand the Hitachi franchise to customers in their new areas of responsibility.

: : Independent estate agency, Boydens, which has branches across Essex and Suffolk, has welcomed two highly experienced members of staff to its Colchester head office.

Brian Purvis has joined as residential lettings manager while Darren Chapman has arrived as assistant sales manager.

Brian has worked in estate agency in Colchester for the past 25 years, both in sales and lettings.

“My preference is lettings so I am delighted to be offered this opportunity to further develop what is already a very strong and highly regarded lettings side of the business with Boydens,” said Brian.

Darren has 29 years experience working mostly for corporate estate agencies across Colchester and Tendring.

“After all that time working for corporates, it is refreshing to be able to work in an environment where the customer comes first. This is, or should be, a service-driven industry and that is what Boydens, as a family-run firm, is all about,” he said.

Managing partner David Boyden said: “To recruit two people of such high calibre is a major boost for our Colchester team.

“Brian and Darren have both settled in very quickly and I am sure their experience and local knowledge will be of huge benefit to our clients.”

: : Sue Monks, who has worked for estate agents Savills’ Ipswich office for 20 years, and has recently expanded her role, has passed her Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) examination.

The achievement marks an important milestone for the Ipswich rural department which manages a lettings portfolio of prime country houses in Suffolk and Essex. Michael Horton, head of Savills East Anglian rural practice, said: “Sue has in the past assisted Will Hargreaves, who is himself a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) chartered surveyor, and with her new qualification, the lettings team will go from strength to strength.

“The combination of qualified staff with extensive experience is a winning formula. Both Will and Sue provide a strong personal service to our clients.”

Sue said: “I am very excited at the prospect of growing this side of our business. 2015 promises to be a great year.”

n Hard work has paid off for Tracy England, who has risen from the rank of secretary to legal executive at Essex law firm Birkett Long and has now been promoted to associate level.

The mother of one, from Colchester, started working for the firm in 1989 before taking a break in 1995 to raise her new daughter.

After returning to Birkett Long’s Colchester office she embarked on a job share as a paralegal, raising her hours as her daughter became older, until she started to study as a legal executive in 2007, qualifying as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives in 2012.

“It is incredibly flattering to be invited to become an associate,” she said.

“I have worked hard to get here and juggled family commitments, but the firm has supported and invested in me all the way.

“It has changed immensely in the 25 years that I have been here, but particularly the way marketing has been used has transformed the operation.

“We used to rely on existing clients in the 90s and word of mouth referrals, but not any more. The firm has kept moving forward with marketing and technology, in line with changing times.

“While there are a lot of lawyers here, as you would expect, there are a good number of non-lawyers, too, all adding to the business.”

Associate and HR manager Joann Kebbell said: “Birkett Long is a very forward-thinking firm. Investing in our staff is common and we like to encourage people who have the drive to step up from their roles to help them achieve their goals.”

: : Martlesham auctioneers Lockdales has taken on two new members of staff as business under the hammer continues to boom.

The vastly experienced Steve Sewell has bolstered the medal and coin section of the company and he has been joined by Dan Nickells as the new marketing manager and photographer.

Steve has been a freelance for many years. He says: “I’ve travelled the country far and wide, dealing at fairs in fabulous pieces of history.”

His interest in medals and coins began with his grandfather, the late Alfred Sewell, a father of 12 from Essex.

“My grandfather was an avid coin collector and his First World War bravery brought him many medals too,” said Steve.

Alfred, a Private in the Essex Regiment, saved many colleagues lives by throwing a stick grenade back at the German lines. Among his many accolades was a coveted Military Medal.

Dan Nickells gained a degree in photography at Mid-Kent University and worked for a time in marketing at the Daily Telegraph.

He moves to Lockdales from the Woodbridge Antique Centre.

He said: “This new job will be more full on for me.

“There will be a lot more things to photograph and a great deal of scope on the marketing side also.

“This is a soaring business, and I’m out to get more Lockdales auctions going. You never know what’s going to come through the door next in this work. I enjoy that very much.”

Dan’s partner, Lyndsey Record, is the new warden at the Havergate Island, Hollesley and Boyton marshes.

Dan Daley, the managing director of Lockdales, said: “We’re delighted to welcome these exciting new members of staff to our rapidly rising company.

“Collectables are becoming more and more collectable, partly due to low interest rates. Investors are getting so little from deposit accounts. So instead, many are buying coins, medals, banknotes, old weapons, postcards, stamps, sport programmes and all sorts of fine art.”

He went on: “Taking on Steve and Dan shows our determination to spread the work, and word, of Lockdales further and wider.

“They are experts in their fields and very capable of enhancing the service we provide.”