From education to employment

London South East Colleges’ students quiz leading construction entrepreneur

Award-winning construction contractor and entrepreneur, Danny Lucas

As a fitting finale to National Apprenticeship Week students at London South East Colleges’ Bexley Campus received a visit from an award-winning construction contractor and entrepreneur.

Kent-based Danny Lucas became MD of a local painting and decorating firm in 1998 and has since turned it into one of the country’s top fit-out and finishing companies.

Students were invited to the Q&A session with Danny at the College, where he spoke about his rise to success and the many opportunities on offer in the construction industry. He explained:

“I had a disastrous education and really messed things up by the time I was thrown out of school just before I was 16. I didn’t even get to take my exams.” 

“Before I walked away from the school for the last time, my teacher told me I’d never make anything of myself. And if it hadn’t been for this wake-up call I think this may have come true.

“From this moment on, my ambitions were firmly set on taking the family business forward big time.”

Lucas has fitted out the London Olympic Stadium, the Shard, Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford, the McLaren Technology Centre, the Lexicon and is completing the fit-out works at Battersea Power Station. Talking to the students, Danny added:

“From there on, I didn’t miss an opportunity. After a year on site learning the hard way with early starts, long days and 7-day working, I did an apprenticeship and attended college to do block release over a two year period and achieve a City & Guilds Level 2 Diploma in Painting and Decorating. I worked hard and gained lots of experience. I started reading books written by famous entrepreneurs to acquire the inspiration to build up a business and hit the very top of my profession.

“In 1991, I became a director of the company, and by 1998 was running the whole show. The company has gone from strength to strength and I simply haven’t looked back.”

Level 1 Carpentry and Joinery student, Adam Wiggins (18) from Welling came along to the event looking for inspiration and guidance from one the construction industry’s biggest hitters. He said:

“I’m so glad I came today. Listening to Danny, you get a sense that he was hungry for success from the word go but needed guidance, inspiration and a good dose of reality before getting his thoughts together and becoming the master of his own destiny.”

Assistant Principal at London South East Colleges, Ana Guimares, summed up the event by saying: 

“Danny has shown the students in the audience today that anyone can achieve if they knuckle down and make the necessary changes in their lives to lead them to bigger opportunities. We (the College) can put them in front of the real movers and shakers of this world and today’s event is a classic example of that.”

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