You’ve sorted out a gift subscription to Building, so it’s time to think about the rest of your Xmas shopping: Lego, a moustache trimmer, a crime thriller and a bag of Haribo.Then you can get ready for Boxing Day …

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Doing the robot

Attracting young people into construction and engineering has been a big focus for the government lately, with the Construction 2025 vision and business secretary Vince Cable’s call to “inspire the next generation of engineers”. US-based engineering giant Bechtel has its own novel approach for inspiring schoolchildren in the UK - it is inviting schools to compete in a Lego robot competition. Bechtel sponsored 10 London schools, who took part in a contest to build, test and programme autonomous robots last Saturday. Anyone wistful for the BBC’s old Robot Wars series may be disappointed to hear that robots did not fight on the day.

All for a good cause

More news on Mace’s epic “Macetache” efforts last month. In all, 170 staff sprouted facial hair during the month, dubbed Movember, to raise awareness about prostate cancer. Participants could be found on building sites around the world, from Birmingham New Street station to Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Even some of Mace’s buildings grew ‘taches, including 30 storeys up on London’s South Bank Tower. Mace has raised over £36,500 for prostate cancer charities so far. Bravo! Meanwhile, it’s not too late to take part in homelessness charity Crash’s annual Christmas appeal. This year Crash is inviting firms to ditch traditional cards in favour of sending an e-card to their contacts via Crash. More info at

The write stuff

Struggling to find a present with a relevant twist for someone working in the construction industry? Word reaches me that veteran contractor Mike Deavin - with 40 years’ construction experience at both Lovell and Warings - has written a debut novel, The Concrete Grave. Not for the faint-hearted, the novel is about construction site manager Andy Walker who gets “drawn into the murky world of East End gangland murders and police corruption”. You can find it on Amazon …

Sugar rush

The engineers at Yorkshire-based consultant JPG clearly have a sweet tooth. They have signed a second deal with German sweet-manufacturing giant Haribo to build a new factory in West Yorkshire. JPG advised Haribo on its acquisition of the site and is now advising them on the construction of the facility. They have little
time to chew on the deal as it involves substantial design work for a 722,000ft2 site. The investment will also create around 300 jobs, so people in the area won’t be left feeling sour. And to sweeten the deal, the government is giving a £6.4m grant from the Regional Growth Fund. Tangfastic!

Calling Canary Wharf …

Pity the poor folk in the Canary Wharf Group press team last Tuesday. On the morning of their biggest announcement of the year - the unveiling of plans for their mammoth 22.8-acre Wood Wharf scheme, to the east of Canary Wharf - there was no-one in the press office. Where were they all? “Stuck in fog on the motorway,” my reporter was told. “They may be some time.” This sounded rather ominous. We hope they’re back in the office next time we call.

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Eye of the tiger

And now to deepest, darkest Hackney where last week seven of the industry’s finest took part in Building’s Boxing Day. A charity bout organised by and on behalf of the Boxing Academy, which provides an education for kids who would otherwise be excluded from school, the event tested the limits of all involved. Participants included Trustmark’s Liz Male, Rise’s Gareth Stapleton, Certsure’s Emma Clancy, Urbanis’ Bola Abisogun, HLM’s James O’Sullivan and Blue Sky Building’s Julian Daniel (pictured). Find out who won the top award next week - and donate to our Boxing Day appeal at

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