Dowds Group take on Slieve Donard for World Mental Health Day!

Today we celebrate World Mental Health Day! This is an opportunity for us all to raise awareness of mental ill-health and advocate against the stigma that continues to surround this issue.

This stigma can inhibit people from seeking the help they need and subsequently delay their treatment. Poor mental health can isolate people and prevent them from carrying out their day-to-day activities,maintaining relationships with friends and family as well as possibly hampering their ability to hold down a job. By addressing how we think and act about mental health, we can seek to support people to avoid reaching a crisis situation.

Here at Dowds Group, our people are at the centre of everything we do and so we strive to make our employees’mental well being as important a focus as their physical health. With a third of our lives spent at work, we want to ensure that our staff are taking important small steps to aid their mental well being.

“World Mental Health Day celebrates awareness for the global community in an empathetic way, with a unifying voice, helping those feel hopeful by empowering them to take action and to create lasting change.”  – World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH)

Our “40 for Forty” Legacy event this year was to trek up and down Slieve Donard in Newcastle, Co. Down, the highest peak (850m) in Northern Ireland, in partnership with AWARE NI. This trek was being held in celebration of World Mental Health Day. There were 78 participants in total, 21 being Dowds Group employees along with their family and friends.

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6:00am was an early start on Saturday morning for everyone to make their way to Newcastle. After registration and our safety briefing on arrival,we all set off up the mountain with the weather on our side. We trekked upwards through old woodland of Scots Pine, Oak and Birch alongside the Glen River until we reached the gate and stile. We continued to trek for another 2kms heading towards the saddle between Donard and Commedagh. When we reached the Mourne wall the mist descended and before long the wind and rain. This was the toughest part, “just another 10 minutes, just another 10 minutes” we kept being told. Finally, we reached the top and although we didn’t get a picturesque view, the huge sense of achievement was very evident amongst all those there. A brisk stop at the top for a photo and we made our way back down to the saddle where we had a quick bite to eat before heading for the bottom. The weather became wetter which made the terrain more difficult underfoot, but the bottom of the mountain grew closer and closer as the minutes ticked on. We were greeted at the bottom by the AWARE NI team who presented us with medals and pointed us in the direction of the soup and sandwiches.

This was a day enjoyed by all at Dowds Group who took part and to top it all off we have raised over a fantastic £3000 for AWARE NI. We want to thank everyone who has donated so far and as we are still receiving donations,it isn’t too late to donate. 

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DowdsGroup40Forty

A short note to finish – in the UK, the average person says they are fine 14 times a day in response to a question, Feelings Inside Not Expressed. So, by asking the person twice, we can express our genuine concern in hearing what they have to say and allow them the opportunity to say how they are really feeling. You don’t have to bean expert in mental health to listen to someone, we don’t have to feel afraid because we don’t have all the answers, we simply need to listen, provide support and be a friend.

Dowds Group Welcome New Apprentices

Dowds Group are continuing to invest in their people with a long tradition of supporting apprenticeships. Our 2019 intake of 9 apprentices has tallied our overall current apprentice numbers to 41, 6 of which are based in the UK and 35 based in Northern Ireland.

We believe apprentices are the lifeblood of the industry who bring innovation and diversity into our already well-established team. We were overwhelmed with the number of applicants that we had this year for our apprenticeship scheme, with an astounding 90 applicants in total!

The quality of our apprenticeship programme is widely recognised and in recent years a number of our apprentices have been singled out in regional and national competitions. We ensure that our apprentices are placed on projects suited as close to where they live as possible, thus ensuring they are gaining full experience on site and not spending valuable hours travelling.

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Working alongside our experienced staff, the apprentices will have hands-on training, learning the different systems and installations in the site environment as well as learning the theory behind it all in college.

Our apprentices have been given a great opportunity and we welcome them into Dowds with open arms. Our electrical apprentices are; Colum Butler, Ryan Butler, Tom Davis, Joshua Brennen, Eunan Mulholland and Eoin Matassa. Our Plumbing apprentices are; Nathan Tumelty, Mason Cole and Pierce McAuley

Dowds Group announce creation of 68 new jobs!

Dowds Group are delighted to announce we have been acknowledged by InvestNI and offered an Employment Grant of £442,000 to support the creation of 68 new jobs by 2021 within the construction sector in Northern Ireland.

As a company, over the next three years our objectives are to increase turnover by 25% and drive up sales outside Northern Ireland. In the current economic climate this £4.5 million investment is not without its risks but with Invest NI’s financial support we feel we are well positioned to pro-actively target larger scale contracts and take advantage of market opportunities in Great Britain and Ireland.

Recruitment for the 68 jobs has already commenced, and will include a number of management, operations, engineering and apprentice posts. This investment will further strengthen our company’s design and engineering capability, and enable us to target higher value ‘design and build’ contracts, particularly in the Great Britain and ROI markets.


We welcomed Alastair Hamilton, CEO of Invest NI, to our Head Office in Ballymoney on Tuesday 25th June to discuss our innovative plans to bring growth to the company and the local economy and are grateful for the support Invest NI are providing with this milestone. To read more about our meeting with Alastair Hamilton of Invest NI click here.

Sod cut ceremony marks the start of construction at Lisburn PCCC!

On Monday 24th June, Dowds Group were thrilled to attend the sod cutting ceremony for the new Lisburn Primary and Community Care Centre in which we will be carrying out the M&E works.

This new £40M centre will be located at the site of the city’s Lagan Valley Hospital and is anticipated will open in Autumn 2021. At almost 13,000sqm the new facility will bring together eight GP practices and enable the Trust to provide an integrated model for both primary and secondary care on the Lagan Valley site – a one stop location for the health and social care needs of the local population.

The new hub will improve early intervention, bring services closer to the patients’ home and help to reduce hospital admissions. The attention to detail in design of the building will meet modern accessibility standards to ensure patient privacy and dignity, and will provide a high standard of clinical accommodation for generations to come.

The involvement of Dowds Group in the Lisburn scheme confirms their position in leading the field for the delivery of Mechanical and Electrical services in healthcare projects in Northern Ireland.

Health Matters to Dowds Group!

Here at Dowds Group, our employees are at the core of everything we do and so we make it our main concern to care and look after their physical and mental well-being. Awareness of Mental Health has definitely elevated over the past few years, however it is still very much something that we need to keep at the forefront of our lives, not only for ourselves but for those around us.

With significant company expansion, especially over the last 3-4 years and with an ever increasing awareness within the construction industry that the many stresses of a high pressure, male dominated environment was having its toll on the mental health and well-being of many key personnel, it became  an imperative need to promote Mental Health Awareness within Dowds group. With this in mind, we embarked on a Health Matters Initiative with background plans and work starting in early 2017. This initiative is spread throughout all the offices and sites, both in Northern Ireland and London. All employees have access to our ‘Heads Together’ booklet which is a mental health support services guide as well as the connections to our four trained Mental Health First Aiders with another two being trained in June of this year. 

Colin Walker (pictured above) is our most recent employee trained as a Mental Health First Aider. He is our Health & Safety Manager and is based in the Ballymoney office, with frequent trips carried out to the different sites both in Northern Ireland and London.

Dowds Group have a key working partnership with Aware NI, a leading support organisation, specialising in Mental Health and Well-Being, who were also one of our chosen charities from our ‘Forty For 40’ campaign last year. Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week and we were informed about the challenges that Aware NI were setting to help improve people mental health and their awareness  by running their #DoOneThing campaign. Our employees thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the different challenges every day and even managed to send us through a few of their snap shots.

There was five different challenges across the week including; Move More, Watch What You Eat, Keep In Touch, Take Time For You, Do Something Nice. Dowds group made a great effort throughout the week and it was noted that more people were talking about the challenges everyday as well as mental health.

We received feedback from our employees, both on site and in office about the push that Dowds Group are putting on Mental Health Awareness. A number of our staff have had experience of poor Mental Health and Well-being and the impact that has on their work and home life. We want to be able to provide our employees with the support that they deserve, as well as trying to break the stigma surrounding Mental Health. 

BIM Accreditation for Dowds Group!

We are delighted to announce that we have achieved Building Information Modelling (BIM) Verification covering Design and Construction for BIM Level 2 from BSI (British Standards Institution).

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a collaborative way of working underpinned by digital technologies. These technologies allow for more efficient methods of designing, delivering and maintaining physically built assets throughout their entire lifestyle.  

To achieve verification certification, we completed the audit process, which examined in detail our BIM processes, procedures and management systems, to verify compliance with BIM Level 2 in accordance with PAS 1192-2:2013, BS 1192:2007 and BS 1192-4:2014.

Andy Butterfield, Product Certification Director of Built Environment at BSI, said: “We’re delighted to have supported Dowds with achieving this verification certification which demonstrates their commitment to being compliant with the requirements of PAS 1192-2 covering Design and Construction for Level 2 BIM. There are huge benefits to be made from integrating BIM into the supply chain, and BSI is dedicated to supporting organisations with this, regardless of where they are on their BIM journey.”  

Martin Magee, Dowds Group BIM Manager said: “Having been at the forefront of BIM in the M&E sector for a number of years, delivering a number of BIM Level 2 projects, achieving BSI BIM Level 2 for Design and Construction Verification, now demonstrates that our procedures and workflows are aligned to industry standards.

Martin Magee expands “The Verification is a significant step forward for Dowds Group, and is testament to the hard work, knowledge and skill set of our BIM team, and proves that we have the capability and expertise to deliver projects to the highest possible standards.”

Dowds Group end £60K Charity Campaign!

Dowds Group’s “40 For Forty” campaign, which ran throughout 2018, has ended by exceeding all expectations raising a phenomenal £60,000 for charity, £20,000 more than our original target.  

It has taken a great deal of teamwork, dedication and commitment to reach this impressive target and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to the campaign.

We were delighted to organise cheque presentations where members of the Dowds team presented the £15,000 cheques to representative of each of the four charities.

(Pictured from L-R)_ Aideen McMichael, Clare Galbraith (AWARE NI), Martin Brogan and George Young.
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(Pictured from L-R)_ Aideen McMichael, Clare Galbraith (AWARE NI), Martin Brogan and George Young. (3)

You can read more about the charities; Aware NI, The Boom Foundation, Macmillan and The EIC, why they were chosen and where our donations will go by clicking here – Our Four Selected Charities

Closing the campaign, Managing Director James Dowds said:

“The ’40 For Forty’ campaign was a year full of celebration and team-building for our company and it has brought a great sense of achievement and pride to everyone at Dowds Group. For this reason, and knowing that the money we raised will be used in such worthwhile ways, we have decided to organise a legacy event each year. We have already initiated discussions on our 2019 event and more details will follow soon.”

Dowds Group Achieve Investors In People Silver Award!

As you’ll know, Investors in People visited Dowds Group in November 2018 and we are delighted to announce that we have been awarded the Investors in People Silver Award!

Investors In People was founded in 1991 and leads the drive for better leadership and better workplaces. They are a company that helps thousands of organisations to lead, support and manage people for sustainable results.

Investors In People enables organisations to benchmark against the best in the business on an international scale. “The organisations clearly outperforming others, are the ones with smarter goals. They understand that investing in people is vital to their success.” 

Paul Devoy, Head of Investors in People, said: “We’d like to congratulate Dowds Group, Investors in People accreditation is the sign of a great employer, and an organisation committed to achieving success by realising the potential of their people. Dowds Group should be extremely proud of their achievement.”

Our Managing Director, James Dowds had this to say about the award: “We are absolutely delighted and extremely proud here at Dowds Group being awarded the Silver Investors in People Award. This is a prestigious award that acknowledges the culture within Dowds Group and the care that each employee has for each other. It makes it even more of an achievement, the fact that this is the first time that we have applied for the accreditation. Every person that works for Dowds Group is a vital part of the great success that our business has become over the last forty years. I want to congratulate everyone within Dowds Group and can only hope that this award will drive everyone to aim even higher.”

To find out more information about Investors In People, you can visit their website www.investorsinpeople.com/ 

Dowds ’40 for Forty’ campaign hits £60,000 mark!

Dowds Group reached the company’s 40th year in business in 2018 and, to celebrate this milestone, our team aimed to raise £40,000 to distribute across four different charities. We did not only reach the target, but the company exceeded it and have hit the £60,000 mark! The four charities selected by our staff for the ’40 for Forty’ campaign are the Electrical Industries Charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, AWARE NI and The Boom Foundation, each with a meaningful decision behind why they were chosen.

With the four charities selected, we planned and held a number of events which took place throughout the year. The 40 for Forty campaign got off to  a successful start in December 2017 with a Christmas at the Races event with Malone Lighting as the main sponsor of the event at the Elk, Toomebridge.  Following on in April, a fun-filled Family Fun Day was held at Joey Dunlop Centre, Ballymoney with Unitrunk Cable Trunking Systems as main sponsor. After months of dedicated training, Dowds Director, Brian Cunning, conquered his Everest Base Camp Trek reaching Base Camp after 9 long, hard days of trekking! In the same month, a number of Dowds staff bravely tackled Run Mucker Run and the Belfast Marathon in May.  Dowds then started the summer with a superb Golf Day tournament on what was one of the hottest days of the year in June. Whitecroft Lighting was the main sponsor of the event and along with 30 ‘Four Ball’ teams and different sponsors at each hole, the event was a great success. In July, Director Bryan Armstrong completed an epic mountain biking challenge  ‘The Crossing’, taking on 200 miles over 3 intense days.

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We held the finale event, The Gala, on Friday, October 19 at Galgorm Resort & Spa that rounded off this magnificent campaign – click here to read more about our Gala event! James Dowds, Managing Director, said, “We are overwhelmed by the generosity that everyone has shown in backing our 40 for Forty campaign. So to our own staff, the local communities we work in and to the wider construction industry, we want to say a huge thank you for everyone’s support. “As well as raising money for these four important charities, this year has has been an opportunity to look back and recognise the hard work and dedication of all our employees, past and present, over the last 40 years and we are all looking forward to a successful future.”  The Gala event was a fitting end to an incredible year of fundraising and team-building for Dowds Group and we look forward to 2019 to take part in further charity work!