60 seconds with…Kevin Gray
Kevin Gray is an Assistant Land Surveyor at Woods Hardwick. A former landscape contractor, he came to surveying after working on many high profile London projects as well a national TV show! Read on to find out about Kevin’s path to becoming a Land Surveyor – and how no day is ever the same in this role!
Tell us about your career before joining Woods Hardwick?
My background is primarily in landscape construction. Starting out as a labourer, I worked my way up over 15 years, to supervising and managing large teams of contractors, building award winning projects throughout London. A couple of examples of high profile projects I worked on include the Olympic Park pre and post 2012 games and Jubilee Gardens, next to the London Eye. This was opened by the Queen as part of her Jubilee celebrations in 2012. I have also had the pleasure of working alongside Alan Titchmarsh on three series of his TV show, Love Your Garden, where we would build gardens for deserving people. That was very enjoyable and a hugely rewarding show to be a part of.
Why surveying? How did your earlier roles support this move?
Working in construction for most of my career, I discovered that I had an interest in working alongside the site engineers with the total stations as they did their measures and checks. I see getting into Surveying as a natural progression – my background has given me a sound construction knowledge so great foundations (excuse the pun) to become a successful Surveyor.
How have you settled in to the role?
I have been at Woods Hardwick for over a year now and I feel I settled in really well. This is partly because of how welcoming Woods Hardwick is as a company, but also that my brother, Russell, works here in the Planning team. And I have known Neil Chance, Director of the Surveying team, since our school days, which means we have been able to hit the ground running in terms of my training and how effectively we work together on site. There is lots of trust between us which is important when you work so closely as a team.
Can you tell us about any projects that have stood out?
As a massive football fan one of the stand out projects I have worked on in my time at Woods Hardwick was carrying out a topographic survey of a rather well known football club ground. It was very interesting to have access behind the scenes of a football team. Having my lunch sitting in the directors seat in the stands overlooking over the pitch was also a lot of fun!
What would you recommend to any budding land surveyors? How do they make themselves stand out?
I think to make a good Land Surveyor you need to be flexible and adaptable because no two projects or briefs are ever the same. The sites vary – one day you could be in a picturesque field in the Cotswolds and the next, in a dense urban environment. You need to be dedicated, hardworking and be prepared to get stuck in. Some of the site work can be physically demanding, wrestling with brambles to measure a boundary is a regular occurrence, as is walking many miles a day – once I clocked up 28,000 steps in one day so it does keep you fit! Yes, you get cold and wet in winter but you get a great tan in summer and I like the balance of site/office time and the constant turnover of projects keeps things interesting.
You did the London to Brighton cycle ride last year, raising money for Cancer Research in memory of your dad. How did it go…and did you get the cycling bug?
It was an amazing experience. The reason for doing the ride this year was in memory of my father, who passed away after a battle with cancer. My brother Russ and I felt that after seeing what cancer can do to a loved one first hand it was the least we could do. Through my Facebook page I raised about £1,400 which completely surpassed my expectations. For that I am truly grateful to those who took part and donated. And I can confirm that there is already talk of another WH charity bike ride in 2020, which is great as I’ve already put the weight back on that I lost during training for the London to Brighton challenge!