McNicholas volunteers to help transform countryside footpath

Volunteers have begun working to improve a footpath which runs through a beauty spot between Bexhill and Hastings. The work will see resurfacing of the path, which borders the Combe Valley Countryside Park, improvement to steps and a new ramp installed to make it more accessible. It will also see remedial work on the bridges the route passes over, drainage improvements and the installation of new benches and picnic tables to allow people to enjoy the countryside views.

Ownership of the path, which follows the route of the former Bexhill to Crowhurst railway line, is in the process of being transferred from Rother District Council to the Combe Valley Countryside Park Community Interest Company (CIC). The company and the managing agent for the park, environmental charity Groundwork South, have teamed up with civil engineering company McNicholas, which is providing volunteers, equipment and specialist support for the project.

Angharad Davies, Chair for Combe Valley Countryside Park CIC, said: “This is a really exciting scheme which shows our commitment to enhancing and improving this much-loved route and opening up access to the countryside park.

“We’re very grateful to McNicholas for providing us with volunteers and expertise to allow us to improve accessibility to the path and to open up some of the stunning views visitors to it can enjoy.”

“It is a privilege to be a part of this development project” said Paul Medcraft, McNicholas Project Manager. “We are working in the local area for Network Rail on their CP5 project delivering track and lineside improvements and, having previously worked with Groundwork on a project to recover abandoned bikes for their Changing Gears programme, this was a great opportunity to take the relationship further. Network Rail along with our approved supply chain have kindly provided volunteers and material to assist with the improvements. Community engagement forms an important part of our approach to being a sustainable company.”

McNicholas CEO, Barry McNicholas, said “McNicholas are proud to be working alongside Groundwork on both these projects. The areas in which we work are first and foremost communities, so it’s important we recognise this and identify what support we can offer.”

The path is a gateway to the countryside park, which occupies a 2.5 square mile site, including a two-mile stretch of coastline at Bulverhythe, and boasts a wide variety of flora and fauna.

In September 2016, Rother District Council’s cabinet agreed to transfer ownership of the path, which runs close to the north east Bexhill development site earmarked for new housing and employment space, to the CIC and is in the process of completing this arrangement.

Cllr Ian Jenkins, district council cabinet member for young people, sport and leisure, said: “Transferring ownership of the land to the community organisation which is already doing such a great job of managing the countryside park will ensure it is protected for generations to come.

“The work currently being carried out will enhance the footpath so it can be enjoyed by current users and future residents and employees of the new homes and businesses which will come to north east Bexhill.”

Work began on the site at the beginning of June and is expected to take several months to complete. All paths will remain open during the project but visitors are asked to take extra care while work is ongoing.

For more information about Groundwork please visit and to find out about how works are progressing are Combe Valley Countryside Park, visit

McNicholas Firmus pip McNicholas PNG to the winners post in this year’s Cutters Wharf Viking Boat race in aid of NSPCC

In 2016, a team from McNicholas working on the Phoenix Natural Gas contract in Northern Ireland took on for the first time the challenge of the Cutters Wharf Viking Boat Race, only to be declared winners against a line-up of dedicated Viking Boat Racers!

Taking the decision to defend the title on the 30th April, this year they had competition from their colleagues working on the Firmus contract as well those Viking Boat Racers seeking revenge at the start line. The challenge was well and truly set with more than a winner’s trophy at stake....   

Team McNicholas Firmus

Team McNicholas Firmus

Team McNicholas PNG

Team McNicholas PNG


Both McNicholas teams took to the waters of the River Lagan for the heats with considerable determination, strength and a rake of grit which saw them set the two fastest qualification times against the other 17 teams. After a competitive (and a little boisterous) build up, our two teams proudly took to the water in the finals and this year it was the lads from the Firmus contract who crossed the line first (despite being reminded on numerous occasions that the average age of their team was older than their PNG counterparts!).

Notwithstanding the competitive spirit, congratulations to all Viking Boats and all of the racers, friends, family and co-workers who turned up to show their support.

Between our two teams they raised £1040 in aid of the children’s charity NSPCC - great work! The entire event raised a total of more than £10,000.

Team McNicholas Firmus declared winners!

Team McNicholas Firmus declared winners!


Fundraising for Guide Dogs for the Blind

McNicholas’ Glasgow office held a charity day on Friday 28th April in aid of Guide Dogs Scotland.


In attendance were volunteers from Guide Dogs Scotland, along with a Guide Dog User, a working dog, and a 9 month training pup. Murdo Macaulay, McNicholas SQE Manager for Northern Ireland and Scotland, organised the event and talked through some of the fundraising activities for this cause.

"We needed to make the event as diverse and interesting as possible to encourage people to part with their hard earned cash for this great charity so, as well as the traditional fundraisers such as a tombola and cake sale, we also undertook a ‘pin the tail on the puppy’ and ‘match the person to the pet’ where employees had to be ‘married up’ with their pet!

One of the most popular games though was ‘Tea Bag Toss’ where people were asked to wear goggles that simulated what people who are visually impaired see and then throw a tea bag as close to a bottle of champagne as possible. The person who got the tea bag the closest won the champagne! Whilst this was great fun, the reality of undertaking this task whilst simple for someone with full sight became very challenging with the simulator goggles on.

We then took this one step further in a bid to recreate the kind of challenges visually impaired people would face when walking around streets whilst construction work is being undertaken. Employees were blindfolded and then asked to navigate their way around a maze – something that was hugely challenging but helped them to understand how a simple change in road or footway layout can cause significant problems if basic considerations aren’t taken into account.

Throughout the day things were kept on a high with the ‘Manager Wet Sponge and Bucket’ challenge! Employees were able to donate money to either throw a sponge at selected Managers (whilst wearing simulator goggles that impaired their vision) or, for a slightly higher donation, throw an entire bucket of water whilst the Manager was blindfolded! All in all it was a lot of fun and enlightening. Thanks to everybody who supported the event."

So far the event has raised over £3,800 with more to come from our other offices and depots, so fingers crossed we hit our £5000 target to enable us to name a Guide Dog pup! For more information or to make a donation to this great cause, please e-mail

WW1 Medal Unearthed by McNicholas

A hero's medal has been found and the search is on to return it their family

A search for the family of a World War I hero has been launched after our staff discovered a Victory Medal in Fawdon, Newcastle, while carrying out routine work on our Virgin Media contract.

The medal was discovered by David Stephen McArdle, Michael Cross & David John McArdle.

Karen Ingham, Virgin Media Regional Director, said: "We're excited to discover this important piece of World War I history and are eager reunite the Victory Medal with the war hero's family.  If it belonged to a family member, or you have any information that will help us find its rightful home, then please contact us.”

Michael Cross, David McCardle jnr and David McCardle snr with Karen Ingham, regional director at Virgin Media,  after the discovery of WW1 Victory Medal in Newcastle

Michael Cross, David McCardle jnr and David McCardle snr with Karen Ingham, regional director at Virgin Media,  after the discovery of WW1 Victory Medal in Newcastle

The medal was given out during the Great War and remains in good condition. There is an engraving on the side that reads as follows:

57672      PTE . A . J . GIFFORD      W . YORK . R .

After speaking to the Imperial War Museum, McNicholas were advised to contact the National Archive. There is a record for Ansele J Gifford of the West Yorkshire Regiment, but no other information could be ascertained from the Catalogue Database.

The medal shows the winged figure of 'Victory' on the front, while the reverse reads 'The Great War for Civilisation 1914 – 1919'. Virgin Media is keeping the medal safe with the hope of reuniting it with the descendants of the bearer.

The Victory Medal was only issued as part of a set, to all those who were awarded the British War Medal. These medals, along with the 1914-15 Star, were sometimes referred to as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred.

If in two weeks the medal's owner cannot be found, then it will be given to The Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire, based at York Army Museum, so it can be displayed proudly in their museum.

A massive thank you to David Michael and David for this incredible find.