Meet the Team: Darren Hill, Utility Trainer

   30 August 2023         Blogs

In this month’s meet the team blog, we’re shining the spotlight on our Utility Trainer, Darren Hill.

Establishing a career in the utilities industry

Darren started his working life as a self-confessed ‘jack-of-all-trades’ working in a range of different roles and environments including a suit shop and butchers as well as repairing pool tables and delivering materials for an engineering company.

He then joined the UK’s largest gas distribution network, Cadent, where he specialised in treating gas leaks in his role as Emergency Response Team Leader. Throughout his 20-year long career with the network, Darren gained experience in numerous aspects of the gas and utilities industry, which he is now able to draw upon when teaching.

However, as Darren’s responsibilities grew in this job, he was often challenged with completing long hours and even 24-hour shifts, which ultimately inspired him to make a change.

At this stage, Darren was living in Nottingham, which happened to only be a 30-minute drive from Develop’s Derby training centre. It was here that he had previously successfully achieved his gas qualifications before joining the Develop team in August 2018.

Life at Develop

Darren has now been based at Develop’s Derby centre for over five years as a Utility Trainer, working within a range of utility sectors, including gas and street works.

Whilst predominantly based in Derby, Darren often finds himself travelling to a range of different training centres located around the UK, from Northern Ireland, to York, to Brentwood – wherever he is needed!

He teaches across a number of Network Construction Gas (NCO) courses such as Service Laying and Main Laying, as well as NRSWA Street Works and Abrasive Wheels – Grinders and Cut-off Saws (AWGC) training.

Darren’s role also means that he is also responsible for assessing delegates’ portfolios and supporting them to achieve their qualifications. This can often mean that Darren takes them from the start of their journey when they complete their initial qualification through to when they return and take additional courses to add to their skills.

With Darren’s decades of experience in the field, delegates receive training direct from somebody who has been in the real-life scenarios that he’s teaching others about and has first-hand knowledge of the challenges that delegates face.

For example, his time dealing with emergency situations as an Emergency Response Team Leader at Cadent now allows him to give back to his delegates and share his knowledge and experience of working in high pressured environments.

Utility industry experience

Having a relatable mentor with a strong background in the field reassures delegates that they can ask someone for advice that truly understands the environment they work in and the challenges they may experience since he has been ‘on the tools’ himself.

In particular, Darren works closely with Northern Gas Networks (NGN) to provide bespoke Emergency Response Training for staff at the company, which delivers gas to 2.7m homes and businesses in the North East, Northern Cumbria and much of Yorkshire.

Due to Darren’s experience, he was invited to provide insight and advice during the development of Training Terrace – Develop’s fully to-scale artificial street, which was unveiled at the refurbished York centre earlier this year.

Working alongside Daryll Garavan and Jim Donnelly, Darren gave invaluable guidance from a trainer’s perspective as well as being able to draw upon his experience in his previous role to input into the design of the facility, which has been built to safely recreate emergency response scenarios.

Proudest moments

One of Darren’s key personal highlights was achieving his Level 3 Training Assessment Quality Assurance (TAQA) qualification, a merit that felt long awaited after having worked in the industry for so many years. After putting it off to begin with, his many years of experience made him a natural fit to guide new generations.

He says that he genuinely enjoys coming into work every day, bringing a fun but focused take on gas utilities training and giving back to the industry by training the workforce of the future.

As a trainer, Darren is also able to find a sense of accomplishment in the success of others and enjoys seeing delegates who have completed initial qualifications with him return to Develop to request his expertise as they take their next step in their career development.

Further resources

Visit our Resource Centre for a range of materials to help you plan and manage your utility training needs.

Visit our Gas Distribution page to see our full range of upstream gas training courses.

Professional accreditations