Vistry East Midlands helps former RAF-man Stephen spread his wings
02 Jul 2021

Vistry Group has underlined its commitment to providing career opportunities for ex-servicemen and women by welcoming a former member of the Royal Air Force to its East Midlands team. Stephen Howell is joining the Peterborough-based division as a trainee site manager, following a four-week work experience placement shadowing the site team at Judith Gardens development in Sawtry, Cambridgeshire. The placement was organised by Rob Spittles, construction director at Vistry East Midlands, in cooperation with BuildForce, an organisation which helps former armed forces personnel embark on a new career in the construction industry, where he acts as a mentor. Stephen, 51, served in the UK, USA, Croatia, Afghanistan and Iraq during a 22-year career in flight operations for the RAF before leaving the forces in 2011. And after being furloughed from his role as an assistant station controller at Stansted Airport last year, he decided it was time for a change. Over the last 15 months, Stephen has completed 11 courses and achieved an array of qualifications in management and health and safety to enable him to pursue his new career. Now, Vistry, which includes Bovis Homes, Linden Homes and Vistry Partnerships, has offered the ex-serviceman his very first job in the industry at its Judith Gardens development. Stephen said: “After spending just shy of 30 years in aviation, switching to construction was not a decision I made lightly. That being said, there are some key similarities between the two industries that assured me I could make the change. “After speaking with Rob, my BuildForce mentor at Vistry, I knew I would settle in quickly. The teams are all made up of similar personalities, and it’s easy to establish and maintain relationships. There is a real sense of comradery in construction.” Vistry employs over 100 former servicemen and women across the country, including several within the East Midlands division. Last year, Vistry signed the BuildForce Veteran Alliance Charter to show its continued commitment to employing ex-military personnel. Stephen said: “After being furloughed in March last year, I didn’t want to sit around doing nothing. “I took this opportunity to learn more about the construction industry. I started my first course in October and have since completed 10 more. The next step to starting my new career was gaining much-needed practical experience, and that’s where BuildForce and Vistry have helped me out.” “Over my placement, I have been able to shadow the construction team and learn all about the different stages of the build process. “Just like aviation, housebuilding involves a lot of planning ahead to ensure the homes are delivered on time, supplies are ordered in advance, and that everything is on schedule. “It’s been a really enjoyable experience so far, and I already feel like part of the team here at Judith Gardens.” Rob Spittles, construction director for Vistry East Midlands and Stephen’s BuildForce mentor, said: “As an ex-serviceman, I’m well aware of the transferable skills between the two jobs, and how much of an asset someone with Stephen’s experience and determination will be to our team. “I strongly believe in allowing service leavers to explore new careers in the industry, and we currently have four ex-servicemen in the production department - all of them display a great attitude, and two have already progressed to senior management positions. “This is our first placement since signing the BuildForce Alliance Charter last year, and we have been highly impressed by how quickly Stephen has integrated into the team. “We are excited to welcome Stephen to Vistry East Midlands and look forward to continuing to watch his career grow.” To find out more about placement opportunities with BuildForce, visit For more information on careers with Vistry East Midlands, visit

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