A City Building employee has been recognised in the Queens’s Birthday Honours list.
Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1) Stewart Vandal, VR, Corps of Royal Engineers, Army Reserve was awarded the Queen’s Volunteer Reserves Medal.
The QVRM, a Level 3 award, ranks in military order of wear immediately after the British Empire Medal and is presented to members of the Volunteer Reserves of the Army for exemplary meritorious service in the conduct of their duties. Just 13 of the medals are issued annually and Warrant Officer Vandal was one of only four to receive the prestigious award in the Queen’s Birthday list.
A reservist of more than 30 years, he has been combining his military career with working as a heavy plant instructor at City Building for 14 years. During this time, he has been mobilised for Operations in Iraq and completed overseas Exercises in Cyprus, Poland and the US.
His latest commission was much closer to home. In February of this year, WO1 Vandal was called up as Battle Captain in the Scottish fight against COVID-19, leading Command and Control of six health boards as they established their vaccination centres.
He said: “Seven days a week I was in the command room preparing the morning briefing for the health boards liaison officers, the Scottish government, UK ministers and the media. It was a huge responsibility, but interestingly I got to see City Building from the other side as they set up the Glasgow centres. They did a good job too, getting their centres constructed in time.”
In February 2020, he was an expedition leader to the French Alps, where the soldiers undertook arduous training encouraging teamwork and leadership skills esprit de corps.
Not all his commissions have been as gruelling. Three years ago, he led a team from 102 Field Squadron that built the ramp for speed legend Donald Campbell’s restored Bluebird hydroplane so it could be re-floated as part of tests being carried out on Loch Fad on the Isle of Bute. “I got to stay for another two weeks to maintain the craft, which was great,” he said.
Recently appointed as Sergeant Major Instructor (Reserve) (SMI (R)) at 71 Engineer Regiment in Leuchars, WO1 Vandal is now the most senior reservist soldier in his regiment. His experience will be used to validate training standards within the regiment and drive innovation. Prior to his posting, WO1 Vandal served with 102 Field Squadron in Paisley, where he was instrumental in developing the Squadron as a national plant civilian training centre, delivering civilian qualifications for the Army.
As a lifelong reservist, he is grateful for the support he has had from his employer. In 2019, City Building became the first Scottish construction firm to receive a gold award from the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme. City Building currently employs 14 Reservists and medically discharged veterans, including Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAVs) and holds an annual Armed Forces Day.
It also offers a minimum of 10 days training and flexible working to its reservists’ staff, to work around their training camps. The firm follows a rigorous procedure if an employee is mobilised or deployed and will welcome employees back into the business once they are home.
News of the QVRM still hasn’t sunk in with WO1 Vandal. “I never thought it would come my way,” he said. His wife is now looking forward to travelling to Buckingham Palace for his investiture.
“My family is over the moon,” he said. “Even my son is impressed and wants to come and meet the Queen instead of my wife. It will be a great day and a great experience.”
Alan Burns, executive director, City Building, said: “We’re all incredibly proud of Stewart. He is a fantastic role model for our employees and has performed a great service to his country. We work very hard to ensure our reservists and veterans are fully supported in the workplace, but the way Stewart has combined his military and civilian careers is an absolute credit to him. We wish him well for his investiture and look forward to seeing his medal when he brings it home.”