They say variety is the spice of life and working at Derwent Valley Construction certainly offers variety.

My main role is to price tenders from our clients. One day I can be pricing a hospital ward refurbishment and the next a large house for a footballer. Working for a small, family-owned company, I can be called upon to do almost anything. Projects that I have worked on beyond my estimating role include website and IT development, public relations, policy and procedure development and completing pre-qualification questionnaires to allow us to get onto client tender lists.  

The industry is enormous, and there are a great many opportunities for both male and female employees.

Case study
Category Information
Based Derby
Employer Derwent Valley Construction Limited

Which company do you work for and what do they do?

I work for Derwent Valley Construction Limited. The company is a principal contractor. This means not only are we responsible for actually doing the building work, we also coordinate all the specialist construction trades that complete the building, such as roofers, plasterers, plumbers and electricians.  Sometimes we build new houses or offices but most of our work is refurbishing public buildings. These could be schools, universities and hospitals, as well as houses and other buildings owned by local councils. So one day we may be putting new windows in bungalows while on the next we may be clearing a whole floor of a university to rebuild as a laboratory to carry out research into deadly diseases.

With hard work and dedication, the rewards can be huge, whether it’s earning money, inspiring children and young adults or building projects for those less fortunate.

Darren Allsebrook

Associate director

What education route did you take from secondary school?

Leaving school with nine O-levels, I was keen to start earning money. I was offered a college place studying digital and micro electronics but I decided to get a job instead.

For many years I moved jobs, staying at one place for around five years then moving on. Eventually I decided that I was fed up travelling a long distance to work every day so I joined a furniture company, which was much closer to home. I worked as a buyer and materials manager and stayed for about seven years. When the company called in the receivers and it closed down I joined Hallam Timber Product as an estimator.

My interest in construction really started to grow at this stage and when an opportunity came my way to join Bodill Construction, I jumped at the chance.

Part of the terms of my employment at Bodills was that I had to obtain a formal construction-based qualification, so at the age of 38 I went back to college. I spent the next four years obtaining my foundation degree. In my first year exam results I achieved the highest grades on the course.

Just before Christmas three years ago I once again found myself being made redundant. I spent a month working as a freelance estimator before being offered a position at Derwent Valley Construction Limited.

A year later I was offered the position of associate director, responsible for estimating and company public relations, the role in which I am currently employed. 

Why did you choose to be a construction ambassador?

Becoming a construction ambassador happened purely by chance. My son Joshua was doing a term project on construction at school and he suggested that I go into school and do a presentation to the rest of his class. Contact was made with the school and I spent a morning with the children talking about construction materials, principles and health and safety on building sites. It was a very enjoyable experience for both the children and myself.

A few days after the event, the CITB ran an advert about construction ambassadors in the Construction News publication and I made contact with them.

As a company, Derwent Valley Construction had already identified a shortfall in qualified labour following the recession and we all thought it would be a good idea to raise the profile of the industry wherever we could.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering for the scheme?

Volunteering for the scheme provides a massive sense of achievement.

Being an estimator and associate director is an honour and an achievement in itself. Being a construction ambassador, providing young adults and children with an insight into the roles and opportunities available in the industry, just adds to the experience. If I can achieve this, so can they.

The construction industry has had some misleading press coverage over the years (some of it justified, some not.) Opportunities in the industry are publicised as architects, bricklayers and electricians, and just for men, but that isn’t true.

More and more women are joining the industry and the roles available are considerable for both sexes. If I can make just one person aware of the opportunities available in the industry then I have done my job. 

Please give an example of the type of ambassador work you have undertaken so far?

Having just become a construction ambassador, I have been into one school and provided two groups of ten year old children with an inside view of the industry and its processes, roles and principles. Two more visits to schools have also been pencilled into the diary.

What would you say to someone thinking about joining the construction industry?


Construction is not just about being an architect or a bricklayer. The industry is enormous, and there are a great many opportunities for both male and female employees. With hard work and dedication, the rewards can be huge, whether it’s earning money, inspiring children and young adults or building projects for those less fortunate.