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Octavia Hill 1838-1912 Social reformer and founder of The National Trust 1a Garbutt Place, Marylebone

During our work we regularly encounter people in far less fortunate situations than ourselves. This has led us to run extended projects with estate clients, Westminster council and outreach teams where we direct and support those living on the street. During COVID there are many who are unaware of how to connect with the wide range of excellent services available to them, making the role of our teams on the ground ever more important. Our work has been varied from specific medium-term projects to ongoing work done by our foot patrol teams in Marylebone and Bloomsbury and also our response teams on a day-to-day basis. Whist visiting the team undertaking our street patrols and property inspections, I spotted the blue plaque of Octavia Hill in Garbutt place. Although she is best known for being a founding member of the national trust her achievements went beyond this and are very relevant today.


Born into a family of strained finances Octavia Hill was unable to complete a formal education. This did not stop her pioneering not only social housing but social work and shaping the modern landscape. She believed that it was impossible to “deal with people and their houses separately” identifying that where and how we live has a direct impact peoples lives.
Octavia Hill worked with ruthless self-discipline and determination, identifying dilapidated housing and worked with private investors to provide sustainable housing for London’s urban poor. The first of which was on Paradise Place in London’s Marylebone, which later changed its name to Garbutt Place where her plaque is today. The buildings were anything but Paradise, most of the stairs and floor boards had been used by the tenants for firewood and were the worst of Victorian slums. She believed in a partnership between tenant and land lord, where there was responsibility to provide quality housing by one and maintenance by the other.


This led here to lay the foundation stones of not only social housing but also social work. Whilst collecting the rent on a weekly basis she used the opportunity to get to know the tenants and develop a community. Her understanding and insight led to the Settlements Movement, founded on her belief that social harmony was only achievable with mixed communities. This would prevent slums and ghetto type areas emerging. As a city London differs from so many around the globe because of this believe in social mixing, even Mayfair one of the most affluent areas in the world has a very significant amount of social housing provided by organisations such as the Peabody Trust.


Her influence is not felt just in London but hold influences worldwide, the Octavia Hill Association of Philadelphia was founded in her memory to provide housing to low and middle income city residents.
Octavia Hill identified a housing need for key workers more than an century before it became a phrase so often used today.

Her influence was not just on the urban and social landscape, fighting to prevent urban sprawl and thus saving both Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill Fields from development. This green space is always of great value to London residents rich or poor but even more so in the currant time of lock down. She is also credited with coining the term “green belt”, a term and idea used and appreciated by all of us.


Her most famous legacy is almost centrally the founding of the National Trust, saving important buildings for the nation. This however is only one part of her incredible achievements on the urban, suburban, rural and social landscape of the UK and beyond.

The father of tropical medicine – Sir Patrick Manson 1844-1922 – 21 Queen Anne Street Marylebone

One of our most interesting and challenging assignments is based in Marylebone on behalf of the Howard de Walden Estate. The teams are tasked with providing street-based security and support services to all tenants and visitors to the area. These include medical facilities on Harley street, a diverse range of retailers on Marylebone High Street and an enviable selection of restaurants on Marylebone Lane. The teams are also there to respond to concerns of residents who call the area home.

Our teams have seen an increase in work load and a changing dynamic during the pandemic, their essential work has been key to supporting all estate users in a way that is beyond simply security. These duties include working with outreach teams to identify and contact rough sleepers to producing detailed vacant property inspections (VPI’s) for buildings temporally closed, giving those working remotely on the ground information quickly for a wide range of scenarios.

Whilst visiting the team it is easy to be intrigued by a great number of blue plaques that dot many of the buildings. One of these plaques is found on 21 Queen Anne Street in memory of a distant cousin of the explorer David Livingstone; Sir Patrick Manson. Born in Scotland, he proved to be gifted, not only at his academic studies but a great number of sports; perhaps most unusually for a Scotsman, even cricket. His ability academically was extraordinary, when he passed his medical degree aged 19, he was still too young to formally graduate.

On graduation he worked for a short time in Durham before moving to Taiwan. This was the start of his world changing research into tropical medicine, the effects of which are still with us today.

After his time in Taiwan, he moved to Amoy on the Chinese coast, where he became fully fluent in Mandarin and began his research into malaria. This is where he made his world changing discovery by identifying the link between malaria and mosquitos.

In 1889 he returned to the UK and took up residence at 21 Queen Anne Street and where his work continued. Joining the royal collage of physicians and becoming a chief medical officer on tropical illnesses to the government, he was also Instrumental in the foundation of The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

This remarkable organisation which he helped create is today providing research, information and on the ground action in the global struggle against COVID19.

Sir Patrick Manson saved countless lives in his own life time, as a result of his research into malaria the numbers of lives saved is countless millions and now nearly 100 years since his death his legacy continues to save many more.

Sir Patrick’s work resonated with us. While Gallowglass Security cannot offer medical expertise, we do support those that can; whether this be supporting the GLA and housing the homeless, working to protect the test facility in Brockwell Park, ensuring the hotels hosting returning travellers are kept safe, or providing expert health and safety advice to up-and-coming events organisations, we are dedicated to helping others, just like Sir Patrick Manson.

Front of House; Building Manager; Security Guard: One person, three jobs

Sadly, due to the Pandemic, it is impossible to keep all three roles active. A limited number of staff and visitors are coming into the building; therefore, reception and front of house staff are largely manning empty reception halls. However, checking on the buildings health and ensuring the site is secure remains critical. A burst pipe, running tap, faulty heating system or broken air conditioning units can cause damage to the building and even effect the company’s ability to work remotely, if servers are kept on site.

Asa result, we are seeing increased demand for an individual that can service all three roles; front of house, security and site inspection, at a fraction of the cost.

This has led Gallowglass Security to fill a new and developing service based on our highly experienced and dedicated existing team.

Historically we have always provided more than simply reception or security, many of our team started in security, but have developed significant building management experience as well as Front of House training from our very own, Amr Fadl, a former concierge at The Ritz and Browns Hotel.

While we can provide front of house and security services, we have also trained our team to have a strong technical knowledge and understanding of how buildings work. Through the wider Gallowglass Security team we can pull on resources to solve most problems without fuss.

Our team also has multi building experience and the confidence to start at an unfamiliar property and immediately get to work. They have the expertise to read existing building manuals and standard operating procedures and instinctively know what needs to be delivered and how. They are able to communicate problems to the property manager coherently and effectively. The team can also communicate with contractors regarding remedial work whilst constantly updating the property’s managers.

This unique skill also comes with the added benefit of Gallowglass Security flexibility and response. We are able to deploy with minimal notice and without lengthy minimum contracts. This gives building managers the ability to call on support when and where they most need it for as long or short a time as they require.

Further advantages of the wider Gallowglass Security support comes when things don’t go to plan. When a problem or work overruns we can continue to provide staff. If a leak is not fixed by the end of a shift, we will immediately deploy a fresh team member, we will not simply say “sorry times up I am going home”. We see all our work through to the end.

We offer this service based on years of experience proving the service as reliable, flexible and cost effective for our customers.

Vacant Property Inspections (VPIs) in the time of Covid

As a result of the national lockdowns, offices have closed, retail properties are vacant and homeowners have deserted their city properties. Consequently, restaurants have closed their doors, retailers have moved online and the once busy city is empty, creating an unprecedented demand for VPIs.

The term VPI stands for Vacant Property Inspections and in the last year it has become necessary for a far broader range of properties than it did pre-COVID-19.

Many of you may not be familiar with the term VPI, or the practical benefits of a regular vacant property inspection, but it may well effect you. A VPI is critical to property insurance providers, property managers, retail property owners and managers, office managers, building supervisors and even homeowners.

When a property is left unoccupied it may suffer damage, be vandalised even become occupied by squatters, leading you to call on your insurance provider to help resolve the issue. Issues such as fire caused by arson, damp caused by a leaking pipe, burglary due to a weak lock or broken window, squatters or even theft of the contents of the building are worryingly common side-effects of leaving a property empty.

Unfortunately for many, in the event that you do not undertake a regular VPI, your insurance provider can reject any claim you make on the above issues, even if you feel it is covered by your agreement.

A large number of insurance providers expect a property to be inspected a minimum of once a week, checking for a range of issues and providing evidence that such an inspection has taken place. In some cases, without proof, insurance providers do not have to honour a repayment to the customer in the case of damage or theft.

Gallowglass Security’s Property team have seen an unprecedented rise in demand for VPIs. Pre-COVID-19, VPIs were ordinarily for properties that have just been sold or were pre-development. Typically, these properties were vacant for three months and generally considered low risk property. However, since March 2020, Gallowglass Security is now undertaking over 1000 vacant property inspections every month for private property owners through to large corporates.

Every client and every insurance provider has different demands as to how they want the empty property inspected and the VPI to take place. As a result, Gallowglass Security’s Property team provide clients with a tailored made experience based off our extensive knowledge, and the demands of the insurer’s contract.

We provide clients with a daily or weekly, fully digitalised, time-stamped report, featuring photography of all key areas of the building. Alongside this, we also provide our clients with bespoke services, whether this be forwarding mail, bleeding radiators, checking fridges or running the taps and ensuring that no pipes have frozen during these colder months and reducing chances of legionella. Clients have individual demands and our SIA licensed staff always look to accommodate these and ensure their inclusion in our reports.

For those that feel that this is not a concern, there are several horror stories that should act as a warning. One example of which is an empty warehouse that didn’t invest in a professional VPI service. It was reported to contain over 800 tonnes of rubbish, which had been illegally dumped there in 7 days. Due to a lack of reporting, this individual’s insurance provider was not obliged to pay-out and clear the mess left, leaving the owner with a bill over £100,000 to clear the rubbish from the vacant property. As you can imagine the financial cost of a regular VPI is significantly less, let alone the emotional cost.

For those who own a vacant property, whether this be an empty office, empty home or empty warehouse, Vacant Property Inspection Services should be top of your agenda. The effects of COVID are due to have an unprecedented effect on the economy, let alone the personal impacts. Don’t let damage to your vacant property become another burden on you.

Enforcement – The Gallowglass Approach

The frustration that has been continually expressed to us repeatedly over the years by property and landowners and their agents, is the seemingly labyrinthine and highly costly process of recovering land and property and restoring them to their lawful owners.

Recovering land and property does involve many parties, namely Enforcement Agents, Solicitors, the Courts, Security, Locksmiths and even the Police; aligning their availability and efforts to secure an expeditious and successful outcome. If one party in this process not ready to proceed, delay and unnecessary cost can arise.

Gallowglass has acquired extensive experience and inestimable skill in supporting Enforcement Agents in the physical recovery of property and land together with post recovery manned guarding, and in many instances, these have been very large scale and have attracted intense media interest.

Given the delay and uncertain cost generated by the traditional model of recovery, Gallowglass has studiously evolved a fresh vehicle of service delivery designed to expedite the process in a transparent and cost effective way.

We have secured the appropriate authority that allows us to internally transfer a County Court Possession order to a High Court Writ thereby avoiding the delay commonly associated with County Court Enforcement, a problem that has been exacerbated by the Covid19 pandemic.

Currently Gallowglass has six fully SIA licensed guards fully trained as Enforcement Agents and a large pool of highly able and experienced SIA licensed guards to support them in the recovery and post recovery phases of the enforcement process. All this together with an able and trusted network of Enforcement Agents throughout the UK.

We have also teamed up with lawyers and other ancillary partners and negotiated with them transparent fixed fee arrangements so that we can provide precise cost projections at the outset. All cost savings generated are passed on to our clients and we don’t charge an uplift on any of their services.

We are geared to rapid reaction and operate 24/7. This means that whenever and wherever in England and Wales a High Court Writ of Possession is handed down we will enforce it immediately.

If you require our assistance or would like to talk to us on a no obligation basis, then please don’t hesitate to contact either Morgan Sheldon, George Oliver or Vlad Stefanov on 020 7326 7840 or email at enforcement@galsec.co.uk

Security

Nick Kostov appointed partner as of 01 November 2020

We are extremely pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Nick Kostov as a Partner at Gallowglass, and to welcome him as our new Head of Operations. As with many at Gallowglass, Nicks journey towards Partnership has been a fascinating one. Nick graduated as a Primary School Teacher from Bulgaria’s Plovdiv University in Primary School Pedagogy and Foreign Languages, and is also fully licensed to teach at Primary level in England and Wales.

The early signs of his leadership ability, initiative and calmness under pressure were vividly illustrated when undertaking national service in the Bulgarian Air Force, when he single handedly played a critical role in averting an aeronautical disaster. A MIG 23, piloted by a senior Bulgarian General, was in distress and attempting to land at his base. Following a catastrophic failure of communications in air traffic control, he improvised and established alternative means of communications, and from there was able to guide the pilot down to a safe landing.

Since joining Gallowglass in 2008 his leadership ability, particularly in event security, was immediately apparent, and his rise through the security ranks was meteoric. He was the first, and to date, the only guard at Gallowglass ever to secure the accolade of primus inter pares. This qualifies him to undertake all security leadership roles regardless of size and complexity. In this capacity he has continually distinguished himself as an outstanding security team leader at high profile events in London, and at landmark event venues such as the Saatchi Gallery, Kew, the Roundhouse and the corporate and governmental orientated QEII Conference centre.

His leadership style is characterised by his natural authority, that is calm and unflustered and with no small measure of charisma as well. This has always engendered immediate confidence amongst event production professionals in both Nick and his team, and amongst the security team itself. Owing to Nick’s immense and steadfast contribution to Gallowglass’s growth in both a security leader and managerial capacity, he made an unanswerable case for elevation to Partnership, and one that is richly deserved. Away from work Nick delights in family life with his wife and young daughter. He is a connoisseur of Scotch Whiskey and a very keen student of the ferocious martial art, Krav Maga.

Giles Turnbull, the Managing Partner of Gallowglass Security Partners LLP, adds:

” I place a great premium on the timeless concept of leadership and of its value to our organisation, together with a desire to encourage and empower all our valued staff to perform to the absolute limits of their ability and beyond. With this in mind it always gives me immense satisfaction to observe members of our team exhibit these qualities and grasp the opportunities afforded to them to progress through our organisation.

Nick has shown tremendous leadership at all levels and has made an immense contribution to our progress as an organisation, and both I and my fellow Partners are delighted to welcome him to the Partnership. When I reflect on the composition of the Partners, I note that over half started their careers with us as security guards. This confirms that Gallowglass is a meritocracy, where hard work and ability will always secure its reward, and rightly so.”