Thursday, 28th September 2017

Walter Lilly return home from Swaziland

Our trainees helping to build a future

The 2017 trip to Swaziland for the “Build A Future” project run by All Out Africa, consisted of Amy Arnold, Andrew Provost, Benny Feddon, Jack Duggan, James Ananthakumar, James Buchan, Ollie Davis and Erica Denman.

Prior to departure the team raised £5,487 for the trip. Some of this money was donated to All Out Africa, some spent on materials for the building project and the rest was spent on books, shoes, stationary and toys for donation to the kids at the NCPs. Over the past 13 years, All Out Africa, their superb builder Michael and an army of volunteers, have built six Neighbourhood Care Points (NCPs). These are mostly in rural areas and serve as a centre for local orphaned and vulnerable kids to come and eat, play and get pre-school education. Each NCP has a classroom, toilets and kitchens with the larger ones having play areas and shelters. Women from the local community teach the kids every morning and are often assisted by volunteers from around the world through All Out Africa. There are now about three hundred kids attending such NCPs.


Our time at London Heathrow was considerably improved by the appearance of Jack and Ollie who had schlepped halfway across London with their own suitcases plus two huge, and somewhat rickety, bags of the sort preferred by your market trader peddling goods on the street and not at all suitable for a long haul flight! After repacking their items for donation into more secure cases we checked in and settled down for an eleven hour flight to Johannesburg followed by a four hour bus transfer to Swaziland. The boredom of the transfer was alleviated somewhat by a cheeky Nandos located by a watering hole where, among other things, zebras, rhinos, wildebeast and ostriches were drinking, or perhaps just watching us at the equivalent of our watering hole?

Our first day consisted of an introduction to the project we would be working on, followed by a walking tour of the local area and finishing with a braai in the village. For the first time in four years this trip took place in September which meant we could witness the Reed Dance. All the women in Swaziland are invited to attend the Reed Dance where they sing, dance and carry a bunch of reeds in a huge parade for the King. During this ceremony the King can then choose his bride for the year. There are conflicting reports but he currently has between eleven and fifteen wives.

After this unique introduction to Swaziland, we started work at the Nkhanini NCP. In 2015 a Walter Lilly group started the construction of the classroom, kitchen, shelter and toilets here. By 2017 three of those buildings were finished, along with some swings and a seesaw, and about 15 local kids are regularly attending classes. Our task for this trip was to complete the shelter for the kids to eat and play in during their morning break. Given that the temperatures were averaging 35 – 37 degrees I am not sure if we, or the kids, were looking forward to the completed shelter more!

The team were exceedingly pleased to see that the foundations had already been dug by the 2015 group, but in two years a lot of grass had grown, so we still had quite a job clearing the trenches and removing the top layer of soil (it hasn’t rained in seven months so the ground was quite compact). By mid morning we had a beautiful surface on which to start the build. We mixed up the first batch of concrete (using spades and wheelbarrows only) for the foundations and then laid our first few lines of blocks.

Using a string line and tape measure (who needs paperwork, setting out and datums?) we set out the timber posts which would hold the roof. We then placed them in blocks, poured concrete around the posts and set up a cunning arrangement of pickaxes, rakes and blocks to hold everything in place whilst the concrete dried.

By the end of day two we had made good progress with the blocks (some hidden talents in bricklaying were discovered) and, more importantly, our concrete mixes were improving in quality – as we discovered the ideal consistency looks much like a runny cow pat.

Next up was levelling the ground to create a pathway around the building. Cue some impressive / sweaty pickaxe action from the boys, with a well earned rest after.

By day four we had finished the walls and started on the roof. We constructed the structure of the roof with timber beams then nailed down sheets of corrugated iron to finish.

The roof was up, walls were done, now it was time for the weekend where we would be staying up in the hills in a nature reserve called Malolotja. Our Saturday night started with a beautiful sunset and finished around a bonfire and huge barbeque, all setting us up nicely for our zip lining trip on the Sunday.

On Monday we started levelling the floor inside our shelter, laying the blocks for the seats and laid a smooth finish to the walls. A full on debate, with Benny as our model, followed when it was discovered we could layout the seating any which way we wanted.

On Tuesday the kids were at the NCP for the start of their new term…they welcomed us with constant cuddles and we then handed out shoes, sunglasses, books, pens and paper. There were some toys in our goody bags but by far the most popular gifts were the bubbles (and not just with the kids). Other popular activities included climbing all over us at every opportunity, wearing our sunglasses and having their picture taken.

Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons saw us at Homework Club. This has been running for a couple of years now and gives the kids a chance to go through their reading and maths in a more structured environment than that which they might have at home. Or indeed, simply a chance to challenge (and beat) Jack to some press-ups.

By the end of the two weeks we had completed the structure, with rather fetching seating and a gravel floor finish. Our last task was the Walter Lilly logo which was beautifully crafted by the team using a t-shirt, ruler, block of wood and some stones. Everyone can be very proud of their hard work in sweltering conditions (an African heatwave puts ours to shame). The team worked exceptionally well together to produce another fine build, completed ahead of schedule and with some very happy clients to boot!

For more photos of the trip, visit our facebook or flikr page.

Monday, 23rd November 2015

Walter Lilly celebrates surveyor’s success

Zoe Wickins gains full membership with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveryors

After a lot of hard work and determination, Zoe Wickins has gained full membership with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. This is an amazing effort having only graduated from Loughborough University in July 2013.

This sets a great example to all of our surveyors, especially the current crop of graduates and trainees.

Zoe joined Walter Lilly in 2009 as a sponsored student from Loughborough University. Since graduating, she has progressed to the role of Surveyor and has experience of both traditional and design and build contracts on high class residential and bespoke public building jobs.

Congratulations Zoe, from all at Walter Lilly!


Wednesday, 7th October 2015

Daniel Reygate of Walter Lilly in the running for RICS Young Surveyor of the Year Awards

WL Surveyor, Daniel Reygate, has been shortlisted in the Mentor of the Year category

“I am delighted and honoured to be nominated and short-listed for Mentor of the Year, a category within the RICS Young Surveyor of the Year Awards. I became a Chartered Quantity Surveyor in 2013 and since then I have been extremely passionate about helping develop others and assisting them in achieving membership status with the RICS.

This drive has been as a result of the support and guidance I received during my own Assessment of Professional Competence (APC). I was very fortunate to have a counsellor who really believed in my ability and went the extra mile to guide me to membership status. Without this vital support I would have found the process tremendously difficult.

As a result of the support received and since becoming a member, I have volunteered as an APC Mentor providing support to APC candidates not only within my organisation but also the wider industry.

I am proud to be nominated and short-listed for Mentor of the Year. This award recognises the hard works and dedication I have provided to each of my APC Candidates.

The final judging for the award will take place on 06 October 2015 with the winner being announced at the dinner being held on 19 November 2015 at the Lancaster Hotel. Hopefully I will be celebrating in November.”

Daniel Reygate
October 2015


For more information on the RICS’ Awards, please go to

Friday, 7th November 2014

Breaking ground in Swaziland

Walter Lilly team helping to build a better future for disadvantaged children

On Wednesday 5 November 2014 the Walter Lilly team of Adam, Andrew, Charlie, Erica, Megan, Scott and Zoe broke the ground in Swaziland.

They are working to Build A Future for children orphaned or disadvantaged mainly by the high infection rate of HIV running at 26%.

The task they have been given is to build a new store room at the local infant’s school. This started with excavating the strip foundations. The digging in the hot sun has led to some blisters but the team crack on regardless! They were surprised when a building control officer turned up to ensure everyone was wearing hard hats…

Spirits are high – undoubtedly fuelled by the local beer brewed in the bush and served with creepy crawlies to enhance the flavour. Adam tells us that he has plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit in his diet which is good to know!

Whilst we are sure downtime is rare with so much work going on, the team have found the time to tour Lobamba, go for a swim and visit the local town where they were struck by the harrowing levels of poverty.

Communications are limited but when we hear more we will keep you posted.

Tuesday, 28th October 2014

‘Build a Future’ for vulnerable children in Swaziland

Our team heads out to Africa to aid a charity construction project

On Sunday 2 November 2014 six of our trainees/students/younger staff depart on a two week trip to Swaziland to carry out building work on a local community project.  The trip is Company funded but in part contributed to by the charitable endeavours of the staff involved. This is the first year we have run this scheme and the first of our lucky attendees are Adam Rohan, Andrew Millis, Charlie Saunders, Megan Forster, Scott Ward and Zoe Wickins. Erica Denman, as a seasoned veteran of this trip, will accompany the group as team leader.

The scheme is called “Build a Future” and is run by a charity called All Out Africa which organises a number of volunteer led projects in South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Swaziland.  Volunteers can assist with building, teaching, community work, sports development and conservation work.  In Swaziland a lot of the focus is on orphaned or vulnerable children who are an unfortunate result of increasingly high HIV infection rates.   Latest estimates are that 26% of the population are carriers (as a comparison, in the UK the reported figure is 0.2%)

The building work is tough as everything is done by hand from levelling the ground with a pickaxe, mixing up mortar with a spade and making bricks one by one using your body weight to compress the blocks and the sun to dry it all.  As an example the deluxe classroom & kitchen unit in the pictures below was made with the following tools:  3 happy volunteers, 1 local builder, 2 wheelbarrows, 2 trowels, 2 spades, 2 rakes, 1 machete, 1 pickaxe, 1 bit of mesh, 1 hammer, 2 sponges, 2 oil drums for access to up to the roof and wood used variously as scaffold, props, levellers, roof supports and beams.

Through Build a Future, volunteers have helped to build  a community centre, a classroom, several toilets and a shop unit amongst other equally venerable structures.  It is an extremely rewarding venture for both parties.  The children obviously have somewhere to eat, shelter, use a loo and learn but they also benefit a great deal from interaction with English speakers, be it a simple hug and hello or teaching them how to read the time.  As for the volunteers…well that’s simple….one can never appreciate how fortunate we are in the west until one sees these children, without anything  in the world, still smile, still play, still be happy.…and all because they now have a classroom in which to learn the alphabet.

All the very best to Adam, Andrew, Charlie, Erica, Megan, Scott and Zoe for the trip.

There is a computer at their hostel so will do our best to keep you updated on their adventure!

Tuesday, 7th October 2014

Board Restructure Announcement

A notable retirement and new appointments to our Board of Directors

After 30 years with the Company and 20 years as a Director, Graham Corless has advised the Board of his intention to retire on the 31st March 2015.

Graham has been a loyal servant of the Company and it will be difficult to say good-bye, particularly as some of us have worked alongside him and enjoyed his companionship for all of those 30 years. We will make sure Graham is sent off in a fitting way at a retirement function to be organised in the New Year. Invitations will follow in due course.

Graham will retain the title and the responsibilities of Surveying Director until he retires on the 31st March 2015, at which point the Board are delighted to announce that Chris Butler has agreed to become our new Surveying Director. Chris’s appointment will be effective from 1st April 2015.

The Board are equally delighted to announce the appointment of Duncan Beach to the role of Commercial Director, taking Graham’s previous Financial Director role. The appointment is immediate and Graham will commence a controlled transfer of his commercial responsibilities to Duncan over the coming weeks.

Duncan joined the Group in 2003 and has been with Walter Lilly since 2004 as a senior member of our commercial management team. He has played a major part in the successful delivery of many of our most prestigious private residential projects in that time.

Chris joined Walter Lilly in 1998 whilst undertaking his degree course at Loughborough University. He joined our surveying team in 2002 and was promoted to Managing Surveyor in 2012. His promotion to the Board reflects the significant contribution he has made to the business in that time. This promotion in particular, will hopefully serve as a great inspiration to our younger staff and sponsored students, who aspire to one day join our senior management team.

We are sure you will join us in wishing Duncan and Chris every success in their new roles.

It is always pleasing when succession comes from within. It is an active demonstration of the strength in depth of the company concerned.

If you have any questions regarding this announcement, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Managing Director

Tuesday, 22nd July 2014

Weldon Flooring technical workshops

A specialist workshop with our valued partner, Weldon Flooring

Following on from the highly commended technical workshops in joinery, fibrous plaster and stonework, our latest technical workshop offering, this time from Weldon Flooring, was trialled on two groups of Walter Lilly staff in June and July this year.

Both groups thoroughly enjoyed Weldon’s hospitality and their unique insight into the world of wood flooring.

The trip to Newark from Kings Cross is long but worth it, as Weldon balance technical talks, with power point presentations and plenty of time in their busy workshops. Their laser cutting machinery is amazing and as can be seen from the attached photograph(s), can produce incredible marquetry patterns, using a variety of different materials.

Many thanks to Weldon for facilitating these workshops for our staff (

Monday, 14th April 2014

Marathon Successes

James Bolton tackles the challenge of the 2014 London Marathon

One of Walter Lilly’s Surveyors, James Boulton successfully completed his first London Marathon on Sunday, 13th April 2014.

James says;  “My first marathon experience was brilliant.  Such a fantastic atmosphere, with great crowd support that gave a real boost to the runners.  Despite the heat, I managed to stick to my race plan pretty well, and only started to flag in the last couple of miles.  The whole day was a great experience, and made all those months of training worthwhile.”

Walter Lilly commends James on his excellent time of 4 hours 13 minutes – finishing within his target and raising in excess of £2,700.00 for The Alzheimer’s Society.

If you would like to sponsor James for his efforts, please do so via the following link;

In addition, one of our Site Managers, Russell Tinniswood undertook his 6th marathon on Sunday, 6th April in Brighton.  Running for ‘pure fun’ (his words, not ours!) his big game experience bagged him a completion time of 4 hours and 6 minutes; his fastest time yet – well done Russell!

Monday, 31st March 2014

Stone Workshop with Zanetti

Walter Lilly staff attend Zanetti’s stone workshop

Walter Lilly Zanetti

A selection of Walter Lilly staff from a range of company disciplines attended Zanetti’s latest stone workshop held on Wednesday, 26th March 2014.

Led by David Zanetti, the Company founders son, the day consisted of talks and DVD presentations on various aspects of stone materials including quarrying, production etc.

The initial presentations were then followed by a guided tour of Zanetti’s workshop and slab store where delegates were shown the process from slab to finished product, how various edge details are created and the type of machinery used.

Following lunch, the attendees took part in a practical where they polished marble samples progressively using increasingly fine scouring pads to achieve a smooth finish (see image below).

Zanetti are members of Walter Lilly’s approved supply chain and offer a complete line of products and services to the stone industry. For more details, please visit their website

Wednesday, 26th February 2014

Training & Development

Walter Lilly continues to remain deeply committed to encouraging young people into our industry.

Following Andrew Crispin and Andrew Postlethwaite’s recent attendance at the Loughborough University Architectural Engineering & Design Management (AEDM) Careers Fair, we are delighted to confirm the acceptance of an offer of employment for our first design management graduate.  We are also providing three design management undergraduate year work placement’s commencing with Walter Lilly in July 2014.

The addition of these four design management students to our team will bring our total current headcount of Loughborough University trainees / sponsored students to twelve.

Our successful sponsorship arrangement with the students of Loughborough has now been running for over 15 years and we are excited to add Design Management to our already successful programme for the Construction Management and Quantity Surveying disciplines.

Our commitment to comprehensive environmental, health and safety training also continues…

Recent arrivals at Walter Lilly are undertaking the four day Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) course accredited by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and four day First Aid at Work course.

Existing staff are attending SMSTS refreshers, PASMA Mobile Tower training and Scaffold Awareness courses.

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