Hinkley Connection Project hosts pylon super fan

Zak has been fascinated by pylons since he was four years old

National Grid’s Hinkley Connection Project was delighted to host two very special guests, Zak and his mum Marie as part of Zak’s packed programme of work experience visits.

As Marie tweeted as the pair travelled down the country to Somerset,  Zak had been waiting for this visit for a long time, in particular getting up close to one of his favourite new types of pylons which National Grid are building and stringing in Avonmouth - L12 pylons, as Zak will tell you.

Zak, who is autistic, has been fascinated by pylons since he was 4-years old.  Now 19, his technical knowledge of all pylon designs and specifications is astounding and he certainly put our engineers through their paces during the two days of his visit.

Zak first got in touch with Senior Project Manager Dave Woodcock via social media in March last year and during their exchanges, Dave discovered Zak had a huge interest in the overhead line work being carried out on the Hinkley Connection Project. Dave then contacted Marie via LinkedIn and asked if they would like to visit.

Dave was keen to make it happen and after a couple of video calls where Dave got to know Zak and made sure the visit could be tailored to meet Zak’s needs and his insatiable thirst for all things pylon, arrangements were made and Zak joined the team for two access all areas days on 24 and 25 May.

After safety inductions and donning of PPE, Zak’s itinerary on Day 1 took in construction work near Shurton, where 16 new pylons are being built to link into the recently energised Shurton substation adjacent to Hinkley Point C power station, as well as uprating works and a visit to Huntspill Split where the existing electricity transmission network is being reconfigured to connect into the new high voltage Hinkley Connection.

On Day 2 Zak headed to Avonmouth where he inspected the foundations and steel work for the two new 76.5-metre pylons being either side of the River Avon, close to the M5 as well as a tour taking in progress to date on those L12 pylons. 23 of the total 27 are now constructed and the conductors are currently being strung with conductors.   

Dave says, “It was fantastic to have been able to host Zak and Marie on the project, he certainly had plenty of questions and brilliant ideas for myself and the project teams and hopefully we managed to give him a good insight into the work we are doing on the project and some of the fantastic people who are making it happen. He even came away with a few mementos from his visit!”

Marie commented: “Visits like this are important in so many ways. It’s great for Zaks Mental Health and to be able to showcase his skills when conversing with engineers who can understand his high level of technical knowledge. It shows companies the value and untapped potential which they need to tap into and it gives young people like Zak and families like ours support and hope for the future. We need to think differently and work together to provide true inclusion within the work place and employment opportunities for more people like Zak.

Zak said: “I’ve loved doing these visits, it’s been my dream to work within this industry since I was very young and it’s given me hope that this can become reality. Thank you to everyone who helps and supports me, you give me a purpose and I’m excited to see where my journey takes me next”