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Tower refurbishment wins MoD Heritage Award

A significant refurbishment project in Gibraltar has garnered success in the Ministry of Defence’s annual Sanctuary Awards.

The awards, which have been running for over 30 years, showcase military and civilian efforts across Defence, both in the United Kingdom and abroad, to protect the environment and to make Defence more environmentally friendly.

The Tower Refurbishment Project at HM Naval Base Gibraltar, which involved the full refurbishment of the iconic Command HQ building, has won the prestigious Heritage Award for projects focused on archaeology, historic buildings, historic parks and gardens, historic landscape preservation, museum collections, heritage education and public engagement.

“The Tower, a building which plays a central role in the strategic operations across the MoD estate in Gibraltar, was constructed in 1905,” a spokesperson for the MoD said.

“It originally served as the Headquarters for the Royal Navy in Gibraltar and since 1989, it has been the Headquarters of British Forces Gibraltar.”

The three-storey limestone finished building, identified by the Government of Gibraltar as a heritage asset of historic and architectural significance, houses offices, meeting rooms, communications infrastructure, and welfare facilities.

Having last undergone a programme of refurbishment in 1989, the general appearance of the heritage asset was tired, and the dated facilities no longer met the requirements of a workforce in the 21st Century.

“Working against challenging time and budget constraints, careful consideration, skill and effort were shown to achieve this sustainable project,” the spokesperson added.

“The entire Command had to relocate to a temporary workspace, which involved significant logistical and preparatory work.”

“The project started just as the Covid-19 pandemic hit, meaning the construction site had to close for seven months.”

“However, in liaison with the Government of Gibraltar and Heritage Trust Gibraltar, experienced local contractors started work in October 2020.”

“The newly refurbished building was officially re-opened by His Excellency, The Governor of Gibraltar on March 23, 2022.”

Richard Brooks, Environmental Support and Compliance lead for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation which ran the awards, said: “DIO is proud to host the Sanctuary Awards and to publish Sanctuary Magazine to celebrate the positive work taking place throughout Defence on climate change and sustainability.”

“DIO takes this work incredibly seriously and we are pleased to continue to contribute to the wider Defence and government sustainability targets.”

“Well done to all of the winners and thank you for your contribution to making Defence greener.”

The coveted Silver Otter Trophy is awarded annually to the best conservation group-led project or individual conservation effort on the MoD estate, and the Sustainable Business Award is awarded to the best commercial project which delivers sustainable solutions to enable the Armed Forces to live, work or train effectively.

This year they were won by Captain Nigel Williams RAMC and the Queen Elizabeth Class Logistics Centre Project at HMNB Portsmouth.

An MoD Gibraltar Spokesperson said: “British Forces Gibraltar is proud to announce that the work done to refurbish the Tower at HM Naval Base has won the Ministry of Defence’s prestigious Heritage Award.”

“This award, and the work on the Tower itself, recognises our commitment to preserve the rich history of the military operating in and from Gibraltar.”

To browse the full list of Sanctuary Award winners 2022 and to see details about their individual projects visit:

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