When he’s not fitting new kitchens and bathrooms in College properties, he’s taking on mega challenges, such as Europe’s Toughest Mudder. We tracked Alex down and managed to find out more about his role at Radley and his busy life away from work.
I started at Radley in May 2018 – Billy Bray told me about the vacancy in the Maintenance Team. I had been working as a truck mechanic for 17 years and the shift work meant that I didn’t get to see my family as much as I would have liked. I have three young boys and it got to a point where I wanted to be able to work more conventional hours.
I’d moved house seven times by 2018 and re-done my own kitchens and bathrooms in the houses we lived in, so I’d developed a lot of skills from that. I had to prove myself in my first year here though!
Tell us a bit about your role and what it entails?
Mainly drains! I’ve got no sense of smell so I seem to have inherited blocked drains as part of my role here unfortunately. I’ve had some great mentors over my time and learnt a lot of skills. Each day is different in my job and I’m always learning something new. I get involved in the house renovations, particularly during the summer break, and I’ve been putting in new kitchens and bathrooms which I enjoy – my job has a more settled rhythm over the summer, as I tend to be in one place for a couple of weeks at a time. In termtime, I can be all over the campus working on different projects.
What projects stand out for you?
I was involved in helping with the birthing kennels at the Countryside Centre. Simon gave me the measurements and an idea of what he wanted as it was all new to me, and I then made the boxes to fit each kennel. It was an ongoing trial and error approach, and I slightly modified each box to make the design more effective. We eventually settled on what seems to be a successful design. The pens have an additional rail on each side to ensure that the mother doesn’t squash her new-born pups who can get accidentally lodged under her.
In the last year I’ve completed a plumbing course, gaining certificates that allow me to work alongside Colin and Stuart and I’ve learnt a lot from both of them and been able to put my new skills into practice with the house renovations.
What does Radley mean to you?
Being able to have a family life has been a huge change for me since I started this job. I appreciate the flexibility and understanding, especially during term-time. Radley is an extremely family- and community-orientated place to work.
And outside your role, tell us about your work in setting up partnerships between the College and Kennington Pre-School.
I’ve worked with John Sparks and Richard Hughes – they organised eight boys from A Social to come down during half term and help with painting for two days to refurbish the Pre-School building. My wife Vickie works at Kennington Pre-School, and she has two Radley boys who go along regularly to help the children with their reading. It’s worked out really nicely. There are six children from College families who’ve just moved from Kennington Pre-School to Radley Primary School.
You’re known for some of the incredible challenges you’ve taken on recently, have you always been into sport and fitness?
I’ve always been a natural athlete and I’ve always had too much energy! I try and do as much as I can for charity – I must be the most uncompetitive person the planet, I’ve got no desire whatsoever to win, so doing these challenges for charity gives them a purpose. I just like to cross the finish line and enjoy facing the challenge with friends. I’ve done seven Tough Mudders, including two Europe’s Toughest Mudders. The hardest was the one I did during Covid, running on my own through the night for 12 hours straight! The best thing about doing these events in normal times is the people and the camaraderie – it’s nice to get to your target mileage but other than that, it’s just about having fun.
What would be your ultimate dream challenge?
I’d love to do a World’s Toughest Mudder. They usually take place in America, usually 24 hours rather than 12 and you have to qualify for it – maybe one day!
What’s next on your list?
I’m planning an epic challenge in the spring! The idea is that we’ll cycle down to the coast, then do the Isle of Wight Ultra Marathon (106 km / 66 miles) before cycling back to Oxfordshire, raising money for Prostate Cancer UK.