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Iain Critchlow becomes Director of Asset & Space ManagementIain Critchlow - Asset Management Surveyor

Iain Critchlow has been appointed as Director of Asset & Space Management within Estates Services after acting up in the role since August 2018.

He is now responsible for the Asset Management, Graduate Accommodation & Residential Lettings, Information Management, Planning & Housing, Space Management, Town Planning and Wytham Woods teams on a permanent basis.

John Mead becomes Deputy Head of Shared Services

Earlier this year John Mead became Deputy Head of Shared Services within FM, reporting to Head of Shared Services Sarah King. He now manages the University Mail Service.

He is also working on Focus project groups on shared teaching space and freight consolidation, as well as overseeing changes in the use of space in the University Offices aimed at providing a collaborative working area for mail and print staff.

He continues to be responsible for the FM Reception services and for void/vulnerable buildings.

Writer in Residence joins Wytham Woods

The Wytham Woods team have appointed Sarah Watkinson as Writer in Residence, under a new scheme which will create even stronger cultural and scientific links with the public. She has spent her most of her career as a mycologist in the University’s Department of Plant Sciences and has published award-winning poetry including Dung Beetles Navigate by Starlight, which won the Cinnamon Press Poetry Pamphlet prize.

She is now writing new work for Wytham Woods after a launch event for the scheme at the English Faculty in May; this will culminate in the publication of an anthology at the end of April next year. She is also organising poetry workshops and other activities – the first such event, including a writing workshop and guided pollinator walk in the Woods, has already taken place.

New Estates Compliance team arrives

Estates Services has created a new team to manage safety-critical systems including procedures around asbestos, as well as contractor control and health & safety for the department itself. It will also lead on the development of the University’s Environmental Management System.

Known as the Compliance team, Estates Services, it formed in May. George Bennett, Asbestos Compliance Manager and Peter Howat, Asbestos Surveyor, have moved into the new team from Conservation and Buildings and Jennifer Jack from Environmental Sustainability. Further roles will be filled in due course. George and Jennifer are providing joint leadership; Jennifer will be spending part of each week with the Safety Office to support the development of Environmental Management policies. The team are currently talking to stakeholders around the University to help frame their work and inform their priorities. If you have a general question or are not sure who to contact on a particular topic, please email

Sharing knowledge to make Oxford and Cambridge more sustainable

The Environmental Sustainability team recently hosted a visit from their counterparts at Cambridge, to share their experiences of the common challenges both universities face in becoming more sustainable.

After a group discussion in the morning, the teams within Sustainability spent time with their Cambridge opposite numbers to discuss shared challenges and issues of common concern. For example, the Sustainable Travel team (pictured here) took their counterparts on a bike tour of Oxford to show a few of the key developments in delivering the University’s transport needs team sustainably.

The visit is just part of a long-term knowledge-sharing partnership that is already producing results; there are ongoing discussions in areas as diverse as waste-management data, bus contracts, experience of rainwater harvesting systems, and guidance on encouraging more sustainable behaviour in labs.

Woods return to GlastonburyFestival Bugs

Nigel Fisher, Conservator of Wytham Woods, once again attended Glastonbury festival this year.

He spent the weekend engaging with festival-goers about subjects including ecology and climate change as part of the Festival Bugs team, which also featured representatives of other organisations including the Met Office.

Plaudits for Estates Services apprentices

Jordan Morris of the University Print Studio has been named Oxfordshire Apprentice Ambassador of the Year in recognition of the exceptional commitment she has shown to the apprentice ambassador scheme, regularly giving up her own time to help inform young people around Oxfordshire of the benefits of apprenticeships.

Earlier in the year, Emma Ludlow of the University Parks and the whole University Print Studio team, including Jordan, were honoured at the 2019 University Apprenticeships Expo and Awards event at the Sheldonian Theatre. Matthew Moxon of the Estates Finance team also received a certificate at the latter event after successfully completing his three-year apprenticeship.

More apprentices are being taken on across the department – for example, the Communications, Finance and Graduate Accommodation teams recently took on apprentices, and more are joining the DLO and Systems Administration. The largest employer of apprentices in Estates Services is the FM team – Jordan was part of the first group of young people to join its apprentice scheme. Over its first two cohorts, the scheme has been a major success, with 91% finishing their apprenticeships compared to a national average of 64%. The plan is to take on another cohort in due course.

The FM team are working with local schools and colleges to encourage awareness and uptake of apprenticeships with the University. This includes taking on work experience students – in 2019 another five pupils from Cooper School in Bicester will be arriving for a taste of working life in FM. Team members also visit schools to provide guidance on skills like CV writing and successful interviewing.

James Larkins wins Craft Guild of Chefs award

James Larkins, Executive Chef at Compass with sole responsibility for the Oxford catering contract, has beaten 400 other chefs to win the Contract Catering Chef Award 2019 in the national Craft Guild of Chefs Awards.

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