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Renovation process was ‘plain sailing’ at flooded yacht club

In this issue of CFJ, we speak to the floorlayers involved with the installation at the Severn Motor Yacht Club after it was damaged owing to flooding.

OVER the past two issues of CFJ, we’ve reported exclusively on a two-day renovation that took place at the much-loved Severn Motor Yacht Club in Worcester, which frequently floods. Organised by founder of FloorSkills, Matt Bourne and an array of manufacturers, distributors and floorlayers volunteered their services to get the motor club up-and-running for a music event that was taking place the following weekend of 18-19 November, after the initial flooding.

The floorlayers who aided their services for the renovation included the likes of Dean White, Phoenix Flooring in Devon; Tim Lockyer of TL Flooring; Rich Blake and his son Tom, an apprentice, from RPB Flooring; Chris Hughes of Morris Jones Carpets; Allan Milford of Star Floors; Gary Haigh of Ardex; and Dan Woolhouse of Francis of Malvern.

Here are their thoughts on the project:
Tim Lockyer of TL Flooring has worked in the flooring industry for 23 years since he left school. His friend’s dad needed help one day and then it became a regular occurrence, so he decided to attend training at FloorSkills because he wanted to learn how to fit properly.

His company fits in the domestic and commercial sector, mostly fitting LVT, borders and custom floors. Because he’s on his own much of the time, the product is much easier to work with however he does carry out jobs in carpet. The domestic jobs are mainly local, however the contract work takes him across the country nationwide. Examples of places he’s recently visited for work are Milton Keynes, Lincoln, Rotterdam and Hamburg with projects involving hotels, care homes, cruise ships, and office blocks which have been renovated into flats.

When asked about his part at the installation of the yacht club, he responded: ‘I’m just happy to help because I’ve learned so much from Matt at FloorSkills. This is my way of saying thank you but it’s also great because I’m keen to see how other fitters here today are doing the job and how they prepare. I’ve also learned a couple of new things while being here such as the adhesive we’re using. It was a challenge to use to begin with and in future I know what product to use if a property is prone to flooding. There haven’t been many challenges, however there’s quite a few of us so it’s finding something to do without interrupting anyone else working – it’s a relatively straightforward install.

Tim became aware of the installation opportunity at the yacht club through Matt who placed a post on social media in a floorlayers group asking for volunteers.

He adds: ’Because many people know Matt through the trade, they just wanted to give their assistance because he’s always helped others, including me. It’s so good being with this group of lads and learning from them as well as Matt! When asked if the flooring industry needed to come together more on these kinds of events, Tim responded: ‘I think people come together when they need help. Recently in the trade, a man’s daughter has been severely ill and they set up a GoFundMe page where everyone chipped in. They wanted to raise £1000 which was a big ask but they managed to raise over £5000 in the end.’

A duo who also attended the installation project at the yacht club were Rich Blake and his son Tom, who work as fitters at RPB Flooring. Tom has been in the flooring industry two years while completing an apprenticeship with FloorSkills. His dad inspired him to become a floorlayer as he already works in the trade and in the summer holidays, from the age of 13, Tom would regularly help Rich out. After Tom completed his GCSEs, he started working full-time on his apprenticeship.
RPB Flooring predominately specialises in working with LVT, where 95% is Karndean’s product in the domestic sector however now and again they’ll complete small commercial projects in venues such as the NEC. Tom sometimes works for another company which specialises in carpets. He adds:’ I’ve just learned how to fit carpets where it’s a lot more physical work with lifting them which can be heavy, but it’s fun. I prefer working with LVT because there’s more of a creative aspect and there’s more you can accomplish with it.

Rich began working in the flooring industry 10 years ago when he attended a Karndean course because he wanted to learn to fit flooring in his own house. He then attended the advanced course which inspired him to work in the flooring industry full-time after working in the fire service for 23 years.

When asked about the skills they brought to the renovation at the club Rich replied: ‘We’re local and I’m more than willing to give a helping hand. We’ve been given the time to experience what it’s like at the yacht club and the opportunity to be in the environment around other fitters. I haven’t come across any challenges while I’ve been working here, you understand that people have different ways of working but people can adapt to make it work at a good speed.’

Tom added: ‘We came down today because we’re helping a good cause. We saw that Matt had posted on social media for help, so we jumped at the opportunity. I’m happy we volunteered for a project like this because it’s fun and it’s good to mix with people. From an apprentice point of view, I’ve found it beneficial because I’ve been able to learn about new products, the methods of working and speak with other fitters who’re big in the industry.’

When asked how he knew Matt, Rich explained: ’I know him purely through social media, I’ve never met him in person before today. I joined an online floorlayers group while I was in the fire service where I was able to ask questions about flooring while I was learning to fit. I received lots of help from Matt and I think that’s another reason why I’m here. I enjoy what I do and if I could give any advice to those in the industry, I suggest learning and attend as many courses as you can, because you can continue to work with the methodology you’ve been utilising for 30 years but there are now easier ways to do them.’

Dan Woolhouse has worked in the industry on and off, however he’s worked at Francis of Malvern as a floorlayer for five years. His flooring career began when he left school at 16, where through a friend of his dad’s he became an apprentice floorlayer for a local shop for two years before moving to Francis of Malvern, originally for seven. Dan left the trade for seven years to work in engineering where he found himself sat at a desk all the time which he found boring, hence the return to flooring.

Dan came to help with the renovation at the yacht club project after seeing Matt’s post on the flooring group on social media and because he was based locally, he thought it would be a great opportunity to help the club keep ‘afloat’. He added: ’I think every industry should do their bit and more people should step forward to help where they can, especially in situations like this where it’s all housed. When asked about what Dan finds most rewarding about being a floorlayer, he responded: ’It’s the finish you’ve created, especially on intricate jobs. You step back at the end and admire how good it looks. Regarding the firm I work for, we just primarily carry out domestic work around the Malvern, Worcester area. Being able to hand a finished floor over to your customer and for them to be happy with it, makes it all worthwhile. When I was working in the engineering industry, you never received any reward for the work you did except when you got paid – there was no satisfaction from it.’

Allan Milford is a floorlayer at Star Floors and was another member of the voluntary team to renovate the club. His path into the flooring industry began through his uncle who was a carpet fitter. He much later met Matt at FloorSkills where he attended some of the courses provided by the training body. His company specialises in fitting LVT, however he completes a small handful of carpet jobs. He works in the domestic sectors as well as the new build category in the commercial side. Allan enjoys working with LVT because he can be more artistic with the designs and receives more satisfaction from the finish it gives over other floorcoverings. When asked about the installation Allan says: ‘It’s always good to give something back and I think the flooring industry should do more to help those in need if they can afford to.’

Dean White, subcontractor for Phoenix Flooring in Devon, is one of the master installers, that work for Matt at FloorSkills. He’s been in the flooring industry for 25 years, where he started with his dad and grandad over the summer holidays when he was 13. Dean’s career progressed and he was 20 when he started to take fitting more seriously. He has worked for himself for the last 12 years and in 2016, became a master installer, and then in June 2022 became a instructor for FloorSkills. Dean has attended many of Matt’s LVT courses, finding them extremely beneficial and even though he fits carpet, he prefers to fit LVT. Dean found out about the installation at the yacht club through Matt’s social media post and because Matt has helped Dean over the years, it was his way of saying thank you.

Dean says: ‘I needed training a few years ago on a specific job and Matt moved his diary around so he could do an all-intensive one-to-one training session with me. I don’t think there’s a person in the room he hasn’t helped. Dean adds: ’It’s nice for everybody to come together, especially when some of us know each other in one form or another. Gary and I trained together years ago where we did our level 2 as well as our carpet courses together and I know Allan because I live near him. I also know Tim because we did a motif course together. They’re a lovely group of lads to work with and it’s great that everyone gets on with one another while having a laugh and additionally, it’s all for a good cause. If you can help someone out, you should.’

Chris Hughes, managing director of Morris Jones Flooring on the Wirral has been in the industry since 1986. He started his flooring career after seeing a job advertised for a salesperson. Chris is also one of a team of instructors at Floorskills where he runs several courses on behalf of Matt including subfloor preparation, surveyors/estimator courses and one of the many training modules for the 2-year apprenticeship scheme. Out of all the courses, Chris finds teaching the apprentices the most rewarding. His three-day module with the apprentices covers everything from teaching them how to understand COSHH data sheets, risk assessments so they understand how to work safely, measuring areas and planning out using scale rules, various building foundations and asbestos awareness to name just a few of the topics covered. Chris is very much for the apprenticeship scheme and promoting our industry to the younger generation. He adds: ‘The education system is very much geared up now for young people to attend university and not enough is being done to teach young people who want to go into industries out there where ‘hands on’ skills will provide a superb living’. When asked about why he volunteered to help renovate the yacht club Chris says: ‘Matt gives a lot to our industry, especially behind the scenes that few people realise, whether it’s help or advice to manufacturers or floor layers/retailers. Matt is always my first port of call if I need help and advice. When he asked me, I jumped at the chance to be involved, it’s always good to give back. It was also a great opportunity to meet fellow members of our industry who I’ve chatted to online, but never met.

When asked about any challenges on the install he added: ‘With the club suffering from flooding, Matt has moved away from specifying the traditional water-based adhesives for the install and onto a modified silane adhesive from Ardex, which is water, weather and moisture resistant. Although most of us have used this style of adhesive before, there’s only a ‘window’ of five – 20mins to install the LVT. Because it was a large area, we had to ensure that timings were right when placing the LVT, to ensure the adhesive bond was correct.

Following the installation, Matt Bourne and his team received great feedback for their hard work, time and skills which went into the renovation. The honourable secretary for and behalf of the Severn Motor Yacht Club says: ’At our committee meeting on the 19 November 2023, the new floor you and your team have put down was raised. The committee have asked me to write to you and your team to say thank you for what you did, the quality and appearance is excellent. As you’re aware the last flood ruined our carpet to the extent that we had to throw it away. Without you and your team’s intervention, we would have had our last entertainment evening on floorboards and without funds to replace the flooring.’

It added: ‘We as a club are extremely short of money owing to all the maintenance we’ve unfortunately been dealing with and the huge increases in energy bills that owing to our club being classed as commercial, we don’t benefit from the energy price cap which was issued. The flood was unplanned as most of the country was along with sadly being issued incorrect flood data from the Environment Agency, resulting in the loss of the original floorcoverings.

We understand from our treasurer that all we paid for was a contribution to the plywood and some well-earned refreshments. Please pass on our thanks to the team of fitters and manufacturers that did the work for nothing along with contributions, it was invaluable. Once again, many thanks to you, the team of fitters and manufacturers.’
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