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Refurbishment works start on RGRA premises in Irish Town

Photo by Eyleen Gomez

The Governor, Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, and Chief Minister Fabian Picardo visited the Royal Gibraltar Regiment Association premises on Irish Town to see the start of refurbishment works that will modernise the venue, which will also become the recruitment office for the Regiment.

Sir David is patron of the Association.

The soft demolition of the interior - the exterior will remain unchanged - has been started by Noble Construction, who will carry out the refurbishment works under the project management of Anne Lundin, from Danish Alteriors, who is also the architect and designer.

At the time of signing the contract for the works, Association Chairman Freddie Pitto said the refurbishment is something that members had wanted to do for years.

“We wanted to enhance the place from quite a number of years and now we've had the facility put in place so that we can go ahead and do it,” he said.

“Our premises go back with us for about 30 years, and they obviously have lagged behind and things need to up to modernised it needs gutting out and replacing.”

President Francis Brancato added that the Association wants to attract the younger members.

Sir David welcomed the start of the works.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be supporting this project which will create a wonderful new facility, not only for the members of the Association but also for our Service men and women, whether of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, the Royal Navy or Royal Air Force stationed here, and for visiting members of the Armed Forces to Gibraltar,” Sir David said.

“I hope that the new facility will not only enhance the community among those in uniform but, will attract back our Service men and women into the heart of our wider community in Irish Town.”

“With funds provided equally by the Nuffield Trust of the Forces of the Crown, and His Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar, we will see the wonderful renovation of an old building into one fit for today’s needs, that will also include the Regiment’s new recruiting office.”

“I very much look forward to seeing progress in the renovation and, if invited, to being present at the opening before Christmas.”

At present the project has cost £500,000. With fitting out kitchens, air conditioning, and the fixtures and fittings it is estimated it will cost £700,000.

About a third of the funding has come from the Government of Gibraltar.

“The Governor and the Association asked to see me and they explained what the project entailed. And they explained to me that they'd gone out and raised funds for the project, but there was a shortfall,” said Mr Picardo.

“They were not asking the Government to fund the project, which is novel as people knock on my door for full government funding, they were saying ‘could you help us with this shortfall?’”

“I thought that was a very positive way of approaching the Government.”

“They didn't want us to put our hands into the taxpayers pocket for the whole of the refurbishment. They funded approximately two thirds of it, and we were picking up the balance and I think that is proportionate to what the Government should be doing in the context of this particular association.”

“And to the fact that the Government gets back the facility which we presently facilitate for the recruiting office, which will come back into government hands at Kings Bastion.”

Mr Picardo said the plans for the premises were exciting because they release for the government the current recruitment office and they create more space within the venue.

This in addition to the fact he thinks it is going to be more modern and more attractive to serving officers of the regiment, and it's going to bring recruitment closer to the centre of town.

“All of those things work together, I think in a very positive way,” he said.

“I am very much looking forward to seeing this modernized space when it's ready.”

Also involved in the project is E&M Consulting Engineers Ltd, NOSA - Structural & Civil Engineers and FR Consulting Limited – QS.

The work is expected to take eight months, with the demolition work being done by hand given the various restrictions in place in such an area.

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