1. Banging the drum for wayleaves in the EV space
Extending our expertise beyond telecoms, we’ve continued to actively support the EV space by emphasising the crucial role of wayleave agreements for installing EV charge points — an often overlooked obstacle. As advocates for progress and sustainability, we’ve consistently highlighted this issue, aiming to spark conversations that address the need for charging infrastructure development. Our commitment remains unwavering in bridging the gap and fostering a smoother transition to widespread EV adoption.
2. Championing learning and development progress
Since joining as business partner for HR and learning in April 2022, Phill Stockdale-Woodhead has made significant strides in augmenting our internal and external training facilities, expanding our wellbeing initiatives, and more. As we celebrated Phill’s one-year anniversary, we took pride in reflecting on the substantial progress achieved under his leadership.
We’ve also proudly supported two colleagues in pursuing apprenticeships alongside their roles this year. Lisa Hearn, finance manager, is on track to achieve her AAT qualification by May 2024. Simultaneously, Alex Lawrence, a paralegal, embarked on a six-year journey towards becoming a fully fledged solicitor, proving it’s never too late to pivot in your career if there’s something you’re truly passionate about.
3. Sharing more client success stories
A series of collaborative client triumphs contributed to our growth this year, with a number of notable successes making their way onto our website. We penned various highlights, including: how our wayleave expertise helped WightFibre connect the Isle of Wight to fibre-optic broadband, and supported Ogi with ongoing roll-outs in south Wales; the role of agile commercial legal counsel in supporting disruptive altnet Digital Infrastructure, as well as tech startup Adroit Cloud Consulting; the lasting impact of wayleave training in empowering altnets Lightning Fibre and Zzoomm to overcome barriers to engagement. We were also proud to support Complete Fibre and Orbit with the deployment of hyper-fast ‘plug and play’ broadband infrastructure to blocks of flats across the south east.
4. Joining the WISPA advisory board
In a significant development, Sharon McDermott, our co-founder and managing director, was appointed to the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) advisory board in March. After three years of Trenches’ active membership, Sharon now stands among seven industry experts lending their expertise at the highest level to help maximise opportunities for Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) Gigabit Britain, and support the progression of UK homes and business.
5. Collaborating on the National Parks Accord
In a collaborative effort by four parties — including Building Digital UK, National Parks England, Openreach and Trenches Law — the ‘National Parks Accord’ revolutionised the delivery of next-generation broadband in England’s ten National Parks. This standardised approach, covering everything from network planning requirements to environmental impact assessments, addressed the telecommunications industry’s hunger for breaking barriers, reducing risks, and streamlining network rollouts while ensuring the preservation of natural landscapes.
6. Spotlighting more voices for the ‘barrier busting’ series
After kickstarting our ‘barrier busting’ series in 2022, we were pleased to add a number of new voices into the mix this year to help organisations accelerate their roll-outs. Expert commentary came from Tim Mercer, CEO of cloud specialists Vapour, on how innovation for innovation’s sake could hinder progress, Dean Checkley, CEO of leading network services provider Flomatik, on strengthening telecoms talent, and Louise Elliott, chief customer and operations officer at Digital Infrastructure and BeFibre, surrounding the jargon jungle plaguing the space.
7. Holding our annual Trenches Fest celebration
Our team came together at Stapeley Manor Farm to kick off the team-wide Q2 event in July. With glasses raised, we celebrated Trenches’ sixth year of operation, reflecting on the significant milestones from the past 12 months. The gathering also provided an opportunity to acknowledge and mark the notable achievements of our dedicated employees during this period.
8. Welcoming a duo of work experience students
In July, Trenches Law welcomed JP and Henry from Salesian College, offering them a glimpse into the world of telecommunications and commercial law. Navigating through wayleave training, administrative duties, letter writing, and even joining the festivities of Trenches Fest, we aimed to make their exploration of career prospects both informative and enjoyable.
9. Being granted Code powers
After six years of obtaining Code powers for clients, September marked the beginning of our own consultation process. And in December, we were delighted to finally be able to share that our application has been successful. Serving as a neutral intermediary, we are committed to facilitating productive dialogues to simplify complex deployments in MDUs and MBUs. Trusted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority through our sister company Trenches Limited, we stand ready to streamline the process of obtaining wayleaves and making connection-ready networks truly accessible.
10. Appointing Simon Burckhardt as non-executive director
Hot on the heels of our Code powers consultation announcement, Trenches proudly welcomed Simon Burckhardt as our non-executive director. With a wealth of experience at the board level and a deep understanding of the fibre sector, Simon plays a pivotal role in accelerating our plans to bridge the digital divide in MDUs and MBUs.
11. Attending industry events, old and new
We actively participated in various industry events, including the ISPA Parliament and Internet Conference, Connected North, the inaugural Connected America, London EV Show, and WISPA board meetings, to name a few. These gatherings provided valuable insights into the latest technology, internet policy issues, and regional connectivity challenges, shaping our perspective on making impactful developments in 2023 and beyond.
12. Making more awards shortlists
Acknowledging our commitment to a better-connected future, Trenches made it to the shortlists of prestigious awards, such as Connected Britain under the ‘Barrier Busting’ category. While Intelligens Consulting deservedly took the winning title, we were still proud to have made another finalists’ list.
Now in the runnings for next year’s Learning Excellence Awards, we’re eagerly anticipating the ceremony to see if we can secure a trophy for our internal and external development programmes. We couldn’t have done it without Phillip Stockdale-Woodhead Assoc.CIPD, our people business partner, who has worked hard to help revolutionise our internal development opportunities for employees, as well as bring a new dimension to our wayleave training support service for clients, alongside paralegal and trainee solicitor, Alex Lawrence.
13. Sponsoring Salesian Football team’s USA tour
At Trenches, we value the importance of fostering community connections and supporting endeavours beyond the legal realm. As proud sponsors, we supported the Salesian College football team’s USA tour to California this summer.
14. Joining quarterly for our team ‘away days’
Throughout the year, we have prioritised team cohesion with quarterly ‘away days’ held in Hampshire, Wales, and Leeds. These all-hands meetings facilitated face-to-face interaction, discussions on key business updates, and valuable insights from speakers on topics ranging from wellbeing and menopause to community liaison and perspective shifts, ensuring our team is well-equipped to face challenges and seize opportunities.
We’re looking forward to the January get-together already!