Former Royal Navy sailor wins national award in new career in construction industry

Former Royal Navy sailor wins national award in new career in construction industry

A Bellway site manager from Newcastle who returned to the construction industry after a spell in the Royal Navy has won a prestigious national award.

Darren Best received a Quality Award in the National House Building Council’s (NHBC) annual Pride in the Job competition for his work at The View at Abbey Heights development in Callerton.

The 33-year-old is one of just 449 site managers from across the UK to receive the accolade. Ten per cent of the winners in the annual competition were from Bellway.

The father-of-two was selected from a pool of more than 8,000 site managers whose developments have been inspected by the NHBC over the past year, placing them among an elite group within the industry.

Darren said: “It is a huge honour to win this prestigious award from such a respected organisation as the NHBC. It may sound like a cliché but this really is an accolade which has been earned by the whole team, with a special mention for my assistant site manager Craig Carter, whose help has been vital.

“This is the first Pride in the Job award I have won and Craig and myself are determined that it won’t be my last. My motto in life is that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well and it is great that everyone in the team buys into that philosophy.”

Darren first went into the construction industry when he started work at a building company as a joinery apprentice at the age of 17.

“I went in straight from school and qualified as a joiner after three years but suddenly fancied a career change, so I joined the Royal Navy,” he said. “After five years, I wanted to get married, settle down and have a family so I decided it would be better to leave the Navy and get back into the building industry.

“I went for a job as a joiner but the management team thought that with my experience in the Services I should start as a trainee assistant site manager.  Within a year I was promoted to assistant site manager and three years after that I was made site manager.

“I joined Bellway in 2021 as a site manager and have never looked back. I was delighted to be given the job of being in charge of the second phase of The View at Abbey Heights, where we have completed building 24 four and five-bedroom houses. It was really satisfying to be working on a collection of executive homes, which look incredible now that we have finished.” 

As a Quality Award winner, Darren, who is now in charge at Bellway’s neighbouring Abbey Heights development, is automatically entered into the next stage of the competition – the NHBC’s Seal of Excellence and Regional Awards, which will be awarded later in the year.

The NHBC runs the Pride in the Job awards annually and every site registered with them is automatically entered into the competition. Each site manager is judged on a wide range of aspects of their work including attention to detail, leadership, technical expertise and health and safety. 

Dan Walker, Construction Director for Bellway North East, said: “The Pride in the Job Quality Awards are rightly held in high regard nationally as everyone in the industry knows just how hard it is to win this accolade.

“The judging is incredibly rigorous, which means that winning the award is testament to the quality of the homes being built at The View at Abbey Heights.

“I would like to congratulate Darren and every member of the fabulous site team for their achievement and wish them all the best for the next stage of the competition in the autumn.”

For more information Bellway developments in the North East, visit

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