Larry Dobkin: Inside RAF Marham | Wates

Larry Dobkin: Inside RAF Marham

Larry Dobkin, Construction Manager at Wates Construction discusses the community impact of working at RAF Marham.

“We’ve been on site at RAF Marham near King’s Lynn since last year and what a rewarding project it is turning out to be. We’re currently building the new Squadron Headquarters, which will be central for the crews of the new F-35 Lightning aircraft, which recently arrived on site. It’s been a pleasure to work on this really exciting project, and it’s one that makes the whole of our team immensely proud.

All of our projects give us the opportunity to make a positive impact on the communities in which we work, be it through engagement with local schools or volunteering our time for good causes, and this is a commitment that has been upheld throughout Wates’ 120-year history. For example, while on site in Marham we have worked closely with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and Ministry of Defence (MOD) to appoint several local suppliers and subcontractors to ensure that this great project benefits the local economy while also providing training opportunities for local people.

The new Squadron Headquarters will become the home for mission planning, administration, and maintenance for the next generation of RAF operational fast jet aircraft.

We are now in the later phase of the construction programme with handover of the completed project expected in the autumn. We are currently snagging the Quick Reaction Force building, an armed unit capable of rapidly responding to developing situations, and this will be ready towards the end of July. Work on creating the Squadron is ongoing, with the main structure mostly built – MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) works are progressing well and works on the ceiling and flooring currently taking place with the dry lining mostly finished.

We are also very keen to find ways to leave a lasting legacy for all of our projects beyond the construction element. At RAF Marham this recently included the creation of Ladywood, a new meeting place for local Scout and Girl Guide groups as well as schools and birdwatchers. Supported by £40,000 raised via our supply chain, with special thanks to West Dereham Plant, and located within the six-mile perimeter of the site, the Ladywood Community Project took us six months to complete.

The work saw the team tirelessly clear an overgrown woodland area and construct an outdoor timber learning shelter to provide an invaluable education and environmental community facility.

Wates Giving, which is run by the Wates Family Enterprise Trust forms a vital part of the Wates Family’s commitment to being responsible business owners, and has also donated to charitable initiatives since we’ve been on site, this includes contributions during our fundraising efforts for Movember and when we held a MacMillan Coffee Morning.

It’s really pleasing to see the area used as a lunchtime escape from the daily pressures of working on an RAF base, and to hear that bookings are already coming in from the local community. It reminds us that no matter what our day jobs, we can always spare time to do something for others and it makes me personally so happy that the Ladywood Community Project will serve as an added legacy of our work with the DIO and MOD.”