Arguably, one of the most coveted awards to be presented annually by the British Drilling Association (BDA) is its Lifetime Achievement Award, and this year, unable to split the recognition the honour was bestowed on Stan Dronsfield of Boode UK and Alan Pardoe of BAM Ritchies.
Dronsfield left the Royal Navy in 1967, having served three years on surface ships and seven years in submarines in an engineering capacity. All good experience for a career in drilling, which saw him working from 1967 to the mid-‘70s as an engineer involved in the building, servicing, repair and commissioning Hydreq Gryphon drilling rigs for Hydraulic Drilling Equipment Ltd.
During his time in that role, he commissioned rigs not only in the UK but also in Bangladesh, Australia, Finland, Nigeria, Jersey, Italy, Yugoslavia and France to name but a few.
After roles with Drilling & Geoservices / Demco, Drillsure Ltd and Boode BV he joined Houston Well Screens, a US company based in Dronfield and Rotherham in the UK, before returning to Boode BV, to set up and establish Boode UK, with whom he has been involved with to date.
From being held at gunpoint by the Nigerian Army on arrival at Kano airport, accused of being a spy, to taking part in a midnight snatch back in France of a Hydreq drilling rig with his drillers, Dronsfield has had an exciting career.
However, hard work and intense training were he adds more than compensated for by great camaraderie and job satisfaction. He notes that the continued support, guidance, and input by the BDA, to the drilling industry, is crucial in maintaining safe drilling practices, NVQ training and improving on-site health and safety measures - all areas he has championed throughout his career.
Pardoe left Honeywell to join Wimpy Drilling in 1992, as a second man on cable percussion rig and worked there for six years, during which he progressed to lead driller in 1998. In 2000 he left Wimpy Drilling to join BAM Ritchies as a lead driller on a cable percussion rig, terrier rig and hand rig, he then moved on to become a foreman, which is his current position. He has worked on all manner of big projects, including Grangemouth / Borders Rail / HS2 and East Kilbride GISI and is presently on the M56/M6 project Viking in Shetland.
During Pardoe's career, he has seen many changes, especially improvements in health and safety with cable percussion and rotary techniques and generally safer working conditions, along with greater training provided for younger employees and engineers.
However, Pardoe says he would like to see less paperwork involved and more face-to-face talking to people, rather than email communication, but echoing Dronsfield's comments, he is full of praise for the new people he meets, as well as the interesting places he has visited through work and the opportunity to learn something new every day.
For those entering the industry, he advises a good work attitude and willingness to learn as being key to succeeding and highlights the support available for everyone throughout their career from people with different experiences and level of expertise.
While Dronsfield has now retired, Pardoe looks to continue working in his present roles for many years and both look forward to seeing the drilling sector continue to grow in reputation and quality, with the support of the BDA. The importance of health, safety, training underline each's drillers experience of the sector, but it is their praise for the support and help of those colleagues they have and continue to work with, that is the real takeaway message and a good ‘lifetime' message for anyone beginning their career, as well as those contemplating a career in the drilling sector.
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