IOW Spotlight 1: Meet Our Dedicated Isle of Wight Crew

Cappagh Browne, Island Style

Even though it’s just a short ferry ride from the mainland, the Isle of Wight can feel like a world away. It offers breathtaking scenery, island vibes, and a unique culture to residents, workers and visitors alike.

Cappagh Browne Utilities Limited’s (CBUL’s) dedicated team on the island navigates the intricacies of managing the island’s wastewater systems with professionalism and an understanding of its unique culture. Our team’s connection to the Isle of Wight is not just about work; it’s about becoming part of a close-knit community and adapting to an environment where every detail, no matter how small, makes a significant difference.

A New Era

The area of vegetation neighbouring the Cappagh Browne works site in Cinque Ports is teeming with reptile activity, home to a diverse array of species including slow worms, common lizards, and grass snakes. These reptiles, essential to the local ecosystem, are often seen basking in sunny spots, foraging for insects, and navigating the undergrowth. The dense vegetation provides them with ample shelter and food sources, creating an ideal environment for their survival and proliferation.

To safeguard these creatures during our operational activities, we are installing reptile fencing around the perimeter of our site. This comprehensive measure ensures that our work, such as plant movement and construction, does not pose a threat to the local reptile population. The fencing acts as a physical barrier, preventing reptiles from entering the construction zone where they might be injured or displaced. This not only shields the reptiles but also allows us to continue our work with minimal disruption to the local ecology.

The Team: Diverse Skills and Shared Commitment

While the work of wastewater maintenance might not often make headlines, it is a critical service that ensures the health and well-being of communities. On the Isle of Wight, Cappagh Browne’s 19-strong team of dedicated professionals work tirelessly behind the scenes to maintain and improve the wastewater networks. The team is composed of individuals who bring a diverse range of experiences and a shared commitment to excellence. We recently caught up with Dan, Aaron and Nathan to talk about the intricacies of their work, the challenges they face, and the impact they have on island life.

Dan Askham: CCTV Surveyor

Dan brings a wealth of experience and WINCAN expertise to Cappagh Browne as a CCTV Surveyor. With a background in construction, Dan made a career transition eight years ago when he moved to the Isle of Wight and joined the team. His journey from a builder to mastering advanced no-dig technologies reflects his dedication and adaptability: ‘I moved to the island 8 years ago, and I’ve never looked back! I’ve worked my way up from being a second man on the Civil’s Crew. I’m now a CCTV Surveyor. I specialise in identifying drain defects and providing repair recommendations using advanced no-dig technology.’

Aaron Clark: Lead CRT & Trainer

Aaron grew up on the Isle of Wight, and has worked for Cappagh Browne for three years. Aaron has risen through the ranks to become a Lead CRT (Customer Response Technician) and trainer within the Jetting Crew. His role involves tirelessly unblocking sewers and pinpointing issues for detailed inspection: ‘We go by a few different names. The Jetting Crew is what we tend to call ourselves. We keep the wheels turning out on the road. It’s good fun! I unblock all the sewers, identify the faults for people like Dan to camera and find the solution, for our Civils teams to rectify.’

Nathan Sunnucks: CRT

Nathan relocated to the Isle of Wight from Kent 18 months ago, bringing with him valuable experience in drainage work from London. Nathan is known for his natural problem-solving abilities and a strong dedication to customer satisfaction, and has quickly become an essential asset to the team: ‘Before moving here, I was doing security for about nine years, and then I fancied a change. I haven’t looked back since!’

The Island’s Unique Challenges

The Isle of Wight’s separation from the mainland by just a few miles of water creates a distinct set of challenges. Dan explained ‘You fall into a rhythm on the Isle of Wight. It’s a nice way of life. Obviously a lot of our work is under pressure and time sensitive. So it can be a little tricky at times, but it’s good!’

Operating on the Isle of Wight comes with its own set of logistical challenges. Acquiring materials and accessing resources is more complex, requiring a team of multi-skilled (hybrid) workers who handle a myriad of tasks. There is no divide; our focus is on working together to get the job done for our client. Recently, Aaron and Nathan had the opportunity to assist mainland operations around Portsmouth. They both rose to the challenge of an unfamiliar area, and with their experience and can-do attitude, they successfully completed multiple jobs during their time there. This has now been recognised as a highly productive and positive option for assisting other counties, leading to regular requests for our help from neighbouring areas.

The Power Of Teamwork

Resources on an island, particularly people, are considerably more finite, and teamwork becomes an essential approach to work. For Nathan, the difference of working between the mainland and the island is how resource sharing across counties is not an option for them. This makes teamwork and internal coordination even more crucial: ‘On the island we can’t just call somebody from a different county because of that stretch of water! So we are very limited. It’s just us, and we’re the only ones that can deal with it. And it gets done.’

Dan adds: ‘We all work so well as a team. Everyone here will pull together and whatever time of day, someone will always come out to help you.’

Island Connections

On the Isle of Wight, community and connectivity take on a unique significance. Islanders share a close-knit bond, creating a tight community fabric unlike any other. For Cappagh Browne, operating within such a connected community means transparency and accountability are essential. The team understands that their actions and operations are visible to residents who not only rely on their services but also take a keen interest in how their island is managed. Aaron emphasised the importance of positive customer interactions and a friendly approach when responding to residents to build rapport: “It’s about your approach and demeanour; it sets the tone. A bit of humour and warmth go a long way, and the positive feedback comes because of the connection you’ve made.”

A Network Under Pressure

Many parts of the network have a rich history, dating back to Victorian times. In the 1970s and 1980s, pitch fibre pipes were introduced, which are beginning to show signs of wear. The island team employs innovative solutions and meticulous execution to address these challenges. The use of advanced tools like the Chain Flail and techniques such as pipe bursting have been instrumental in maintaining and upgrading the network effectively, ensuring minimal disruption to residents.

The team is dedicated to enhancing the system to ensure its safety and reliability. Dan shared: “We’re committed to making the sewer network safer, reducing spills, and improving overall performance.”

Areas of Natural Beauty

About half of the Island is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – a treasured place where the landscape is protected, conserved and enhanced for future generations. Cappagh Browne is committed to supporting and protecting this important environment; every effort is made to look after our surroundings. Aaron and Dan highlight the complexities of their work in these picturesque settings:

Aaron: “One of our biggest challenges we face as first responders, is working in areas of natural beauty that people love. There are often sewer pipes located in these places. When people see us working there, it can become challenging. We have to ensure the job is done perfectly because ideally, we want to minimise disruption of people’s enjoyment. Maintaining the island’s natural beauty is really important to us.”

Dan: “Our also work involves dealing with sewer pipes in unexpected places, often surrounded by dense woodland, which complicates issues like root intrusion and access. We are very mindful when digging in and around trees, and work closely with the Tree Officers on the island to make sure they stay protected. Currently, we’re focusing on innovative, no- dig technologies to enable repairs without the intrusive aspect of digging.”

The Isle of Wight’s natural beauty and unique ecosystems require careful stewardship. Cappagh Browne is dedicated to incorporating sustainable practices into their operations, ensuring that their work supports the island’s environmental goals. The team works closely with environmental experts to ensure compliance and to identify opportunities for further reducing their ecological footprint. By prioritising sustainability, Cappagh Browne helps protect the island’s natural beauty for future generations.

An Essential Service

The work of Cappagh Browne’s wastewater maintenance team provides a vital service on the Isle of Wight. Working on the island is a unique experience that combines the beauty and charm of island life with the challenges of managing an essential public service.

The team’s ability to adapt, their commitment to the community, and their dedication to excellence make them an integral part of the Isle of Wight’s fabric. As they continue to navigate the island’s distinct challenges and embrace its unique culture, Cappagh Browne’s team remains a shining example of professionalism and community spirit.