With the new Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre about to open, no one is more proud of its completion than Simon Ramage, the Willmott Dixon project director responsible for its construction.

A St Albans resident, Simon headed up the team behind the 18-month programme to build a state-of-the-art new replacement for the existing leisure facility, which will be demolished once the new one opens. His team ensured the project was delivered on time and budget ready to benefit people in St Albans for many years to come.

Simon explains: “As someone who has lived in St Albans for many years, it’s given me great pride to see the new leisure centre take shape. Alongside myself, Willmott Dixon has strong connections to St Albans, with my managing director Chris Tredget and our Group chief executive Rick Willmott both attended the city’s building college in the early 1980s, while Rick also worked on the existing Westminster Lodge about 30 years ago.”

The project has also been good for local companies, says Simon: “We try at all times to ensure local companies benefit from our construction work. At Westminster Lodge, in excess of 20% of the £24m project spend went on companies within a 20 mile radius, sustaining jobs and creating new skills. Through our supply chain we’ve also provided valuable experience to 18 apprentices on the project at various stages”

Simon’s team started on site in March 2011 to build the new Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre, which includes a 25m ten lane pool, a 10m x 17m training pool, confidence splash pool and wet side changing facilities. Further facilities include a health spa, café, climbing wall, fitness suite, dry change areas and a four court sports hall. During the early phase of the scheme, Simon and his team moved quickly to incorporate a major change to the main pool, moving from eight to ten lanes which they successfully implemented.

Simon’s work takes him across Hertfordshire and North London, but delivering such an important project in his hometown was special, “Not many people get to build something so important in their own town, it’s definitely one of the highlights of my career so far.”

Looking to the future, Simon hopes the relationship formed with St Albans and District Council will lead to further local opportunities. “There are some exciting developments in the pipeline across St Albans and I hope that Willmott Dixon being a local company can play a role in creating them.”

The new Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre opens on the 10th November, while Simon’s team will then demolish the existing leisure centre to create further car parking.