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Leisure
All Finalists2019 Winners

Theresa McErlean MCIOB

Heron Bros

On her first project leadership role, Theresa McErlean delivered value, quality and client satisfaction on the contractor’s biggest project to date. Her early structural changes derisked the programme and delivered cost savings for the client, which built trust and drove contract growth. She handed over the gym two months early to drive membership sign-up for the operator. And she delivered a blacklight adventure zone on time despite getting the go-ahead just three months before handover.

About the Project

Ards Blair Mayne Wellbeing and Leisure Complex, Newtownards, Northern Ireland

Client: Ards and North Down Borough Council

Contract: NEC 3 option B, priced contract with bills of quantities

Value: £30m

Promoted to lead contract manager for this new-build leisure centre 10 miles from Belfast, Theresa McErlean delivered value, quality and client satisfaction on the contractor’s biggest project to date.

On a brownfield site with a high water-table and poor ground-bearing capacity, she championed the use of pulverised fuel ash wrapped in a geogrid to create a raft foundation for the covered 2G sports pitch. The lightweight aggregate, freely available from a power station she’d worked on, was a perfect, time-saving alternative to the original piled design.

By changing the bespoke zinc roof (deliverable by only one small contractor in the region) to an alternative with a similar appearance, Theresa opened procurement to a range of local subcontractors and saved the client £500k. She further derisked the programme by switching from reinforced concrete columns and beams for the first floor of the main building to all-steel. Her introduction of a much simpler steel portal construction gave other subcontractors access at an earlier stage. The benefits of these early changes created a relationship of trust with the client and design team and drove contract growth on the project.

She came up with the idea of bespoke formwork moulds for shuttering the pools. Although the laser-cut template moulds involved significant cost to incorporate the stepped foot-ledge, it avoided the quality and programme risk involved in trying to form the complex detail in preformed shuttering.

Her technical expertise was matched by a clear client focus. To capitalise on new-year gym memberships, the centre operator needed the facility up and running on the handover date. With no phased completion in the contract, Theresa handed the gym over two months early. It drove membership sign-up and induction so successfully that 3,000 memberships were sold prior to the centre opening. Similarly, she delivered the UK’s first-ever blacklight adventure zone on time despite getting the instruction to proceed just three months before handover.