Tag Archives: Pilgrims Group

Pilgrims Group’s Afghanistan project wins Security and Fire Excellence Award for International Achievement

For the third year running, international security specialist Pilgrims Group has won a prestigious Security and Fire Excellence Award (SEA), this time around for its work on protecting an international aerospace electronics client in Afghanistan.

The project involved the very rapid mobilisation and full operation of a training school and maintenance centre providing the foundation for teaching Afghan engineer instructors and engineers to support the secure communications equipment provided to every major organisation in the Afghan Security Forces.

The Security and Fire Excellence Awards’ Judges clearly recognised the excellent teamwork required and the challenges of delivering such a project on time in the extremely challenging security context in Afghanistan. Also, they recognised the significance of the outcome – a sustainable capability of secure communications across all forces engaged in the fight against terrorism.


Pilgrims Group COO David Freear pictured (centre) with event host Jimmy Carr (right) and a representative of category sponsor Hanwha Techwin

Pilgrims Group COO David Freear commented: “This award recognises the abilities of our teams working in some of the most challenging locations in the world, and we’re delighted and extremely proud to accept it. Their achievement is all the more impressive as this year has been particularly competitive, with entries for the Security and Fire Excellence Awards up by 17% compared to last year. Winning an award like this demonstrates that our peers in the industry acknowledge the quality of what we do. It’s a great testament to our staff who work so hard for our clients around the world.”

Last year, Pilgrims Group won the International Achievement Award at the Security and Fire Excellence Awards for its work having won the security contract in support of the British Consulates in Nigeria, redesigning the contracted security team configuration and transforming their performance, in parallel with enabling the continued development of the individual through innovative learning methodologies.


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Pilgrims’ vessel ‘The Judge’ to assist organisations requiring maritime security solutions in West Africa

International security specialist Pilgrims Group has further increased its ability to provide safe passage for clients working in West African waters by upgrading a former US Coast Guard cutter with state-of-the-art anti piracy facilities.

The vessel, MV The Judge, was acquired by Pilgrims in the USA three years ago and has recently been refitted to install state-of-the-art navigation and anti-piracy equipment, expanding its personnel capacity to 12 crew members.

Corporate clients including oil companies, geological surveyors and cable laying experts have already enjoyed the protection of an armed escort provided by MV The Judge whose captain, Shane Slabbert, has military experience with the South African Navy.

The vessel, which has worked as far afield as Egypt, Somalia and Mombasa, is now based in Lagos, Nigeria working alongside the Nigerian Armed Forces. Its area of operations now extends along the West African coast.

The potential for attack by pirates is a regrettable feature of modern maritime activity and poses a significant threat to our clients, many of whom are involved in projects of international economic significance,” stated Daniel Revmatas, general manager of Pilgrims Africa.

“The Judge gives Pilgrims the ability to provide organisations with a complete solution to security provision, both on land and at sea. Our sea-borne service, demonstrated by the upgraded abilities of The Judge, provides welcome reassurance in this uncertain environment.”

The highly mobile vessel is able to respond rapidly to potential threats long before a suspicious craft can approach a client’s operation. Pilgrims closely co-ordinates MV The Judge’s movements with the Nigerian authorities to safeguard a range of commercial operations around West African waters. These operations include oil exploration, seismic surveys, resupply missions, crew changes and emergency evacuation.

“The decision to bring MV The Judge to Lagos and realise a dedicated offshore maritime role for the vessel is a fantastic addition to the Pilgrims service in Nigeria,” enthused Tim Hepworth, regional director for Drum Cussac in Nigeria (a company that works alongside Pilgrims in supporting clients across the country).

“The vessel is ‘fit for task’ and ideally suited to protecting major operations as well as short to medium-term survey and drilling projects conducted in support of the oil and gas industries.”

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Pilgrims Group appoints country director as part of footprint expansion in Algeria

Global security and risk management specialist Pilgrims Group has announced its first country director for Algeria, confirming the company’s commitment to developing its portfolio of services for businesses working in the region. 

Algeria has large oil and gas reserves and a major part of its GDP comes from this sector.

Martin Fuller has been appointed to the country director’s role and brings with him a wealth of experience in risk mitigation, crisis management, business development and business continuity.

Fuller’s previous roles include development director at G4S with responsibility for the oil and gas markets in Africa, security team leader for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), principle consultant for a Middle East security management company and twelve years working at BP International as a security, crisis and business continuity management specialist.

On his new role at Pilgrims, Fuller told Risk UK: “My focus is to grow Pilgrims’ footprint throughout the country and manage our operations to ensure the highest quality of service delivery. While it’s easy to travel to Algeria from Europe, our clients deserve and expect close management of their contracts and this is most effectively met through having a permanent local presence. It also helps us meet and maintain the necessary contacts and service our clients need with maximum efficiency.”

Martin Fuller: country director for Pilgrims Group in Algeria

Martin Fuller: country director for Pilgrims Group in Algeria

Fuller added: “By living in Algeria, I can develop a personal and hands-on understanding of the day-to-day challenges that businesses face in the country. This will perfectly position us to add value to our clients’ operations by delivering what they need, when they need it and by being able to anticipate those needs.”

Risk management and risk assessments

Pilgrims has already energised a partnership with The Mesli Group which operates a well-established security guarding company (by the name of CGPS) with over 4,000 officers deployed throughout Algeria.

A number of key services are already provided by Pilgrims in Algeria. “Currently,” stated Fuller, “our main service offerings here cover key areas of risk management, from embedded risk managers and logistic co-ordinators, the provision of risk assessments and the development of appropriate mitigation plans, among them technical security solutions, through to comprehensive journey management support using our in-house cars, drivers and tracking systems, close protection teams, medical support – including our own fleet of ambulances and medics – and motor cycle response teams.”

A key service also provided for international clients is Pilgrims’ award-winning pre-deployment hostile environment awareness training (HEAT), delivered either through its Centre of Excellence near Gatwick Airport in the UK or at its Training Academy located in Algiers.

Commenting on Fuller’s appointment, Pilgrims’ managing director Bill Freear said: “I’m delighted that Martin has joined the growing Pilgrims ranks. His in-depth understanding of the risk management spectrum and, in particular, the oil and gas industry makes him an ideal lead for our future plans in Algeria. The manner in which he has quickly aligned himself to the Pilgrims ethos and become an invaluable member of the team is a credit to his commitment and capability.”

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Pilgrims Group supports the fight against Ebola at home and abroad

The Pilgrims Group is appearing on ITV’s Tonight programme at 7.30 pm this evening. The topic of discussion? ‘Is the UK prepared for the arrival of Ebola?’

The international security and risk specialist is helping organisations protect themselves from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The company’s teams are also supporting efforts to prevent the spread of the disease to the UK.

In West Africa, Pilgrims Group is working with commercial businesses, media organisations and NGOs by offering practical solutions around training, risk assessment, contingency planning and decontamination equipment for those teams operating in affected areas.

Here in the UK, the company is offering its expertise to airport managers and the Government’s border agencies in relation to the provision of staff training, equipment and other means of practical support.

“Prevention and protection are better than cure,” stated James Milnes, a leading specialist on the Ebola virus. “In the case of Ebola, where there is no cure, it stands to reason that prevention and protection are the only available options.”

Filming takes place for the Tonight programme on ITV

Filming takes place for the Tonight programme on ITV

Preparing for Ebola in the UK

In this evening’s broadcast, ITV’s science correspondent Alok Jha will be looking at how the UK is preparing for Ebola and asks if we are really ready.

Pilgrims Group has supported the programme by offering specialist advice and comment on the preparation processes for dealing with Ebola contamination, in addition to providing a practical run-through and demonstration of Personal Protective Equipment.

“The devastating human cost of the Ebola crisis and its potential for destabilising the international community has been recognised as a global threat by the World Health Organisation, the United States Government and many international organisations,” explained Pilgrims Group’s managing director Bill Freear. “We welcome the chance to play our part in effectively preventing the spread of this dreadful disease and eventually controlling it.”

*Access the ITV website for an in-depth preview of tonight’s programme complete with video interviews featuring James Milnes, leading epidemiologist David Heymann and infectious disease scientist Jeremy Farrar

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Pilgrims re-awarded Government of Iraq operating licence

Pilgrims Security Services Limited (Iraq) has been re-awarded its Government of Iraq operating licence, which is a necessary requirement for all armed security companies (domestic as well as international) stationed and operational in the country.

The decision follows on from a lengthy re-evaluation process and inspection of the company’s premises, including weapon storage arrangements. A significant number of security companies have yet to be granted renewals.

Iraq is currently subject to a vicious and, to date, surprisingly successful Islamic State insurgency in the country’s Northern provinces. Although in a state of flux following the resignation of the authoritarian Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who had been in power for eight years, the Government’s functions and capabilities are regenerating following a period of atrophy during the coalition occupation.

Matthew Cawthorne: country director for Pilgrims Group's operations in Iraq

Matthew Cawthorne: country director for Pilgrims Group’s operations in Iraq

Against this backdrop, the re-award of Pilgrims’ operating licence can be viewed as a ringing endorsement of the company’s compliance.

Managing Director William Freear commented: “Successfully supporting our clients’ needs in Iraq has been foremost in our delivery of service excellence in Iraq for the past decade. Our country team, ably led by Matthew Cawthorne who’s our country director, has been meticulous and consistent in maintaining our compliance in Iraq and keeping clients protected whatever the circumstances.”

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Pilgrims Group appoints Andrew Melvin to further develop UK security guarding service for end users

Commercial security expert Andrew Melvin has joined security risk mitigation specialist Pilgrims Group as the company’s UK business development director.

Melvin’s appointment follows a 21-year career with the police service and 12 successful years in the private security sector. He’ll now play a key role in developing Pilgrims Group’s domestic business and help continue to grow its security guarding service as a leading independent, dedicated security operation in the UK.

Melvin joins Pilgrims Group following his role as commercial director at The Shield Guarding Company. He’s a trustee of the Cross-Sector Safety and Security Communications (CSSC) charity, a legacy project of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and also a member of the Institute of Directors.

Andrew Melvin: UK business development director at Pilgrims Group

Andrew Melvin: UK business development director at Pilgrims Group

Speaking about his new role, Melvin stated: “I have a passionate belief in the provision of professional, high quality security services through a specialised security company which is not too large and impersonal. Several large companies now dominating the market offer a range of other solutions, such as cleaning and catering, but I believe this dilutes the focus on security.”

Melvin continued: “Pilgrims Group provides one of the broadest ranges of services in this single specialist sector, delivering comprehensive security risk management. The company is completely dedicated to the provision of professional security within the UK and on the international stage. It has a highly experienced management team from backgrounds that include military, policing and intelligence services. I’m looking forward to working closely with the team and building Pilgrims Group’s presence in the UK.”

Pilgrims Group’s managing director Bill Freear added: “We’re delighted to welcome Andrew to the company. We have been looking for a very long time now to discover someone with his talents. We have long had the product and track record but needed the final piece in the puzzle which was someone to ‘lead the charge’. Andrew has all the essential ingredients to fit into the Pilgrims Group team and present our services to the domestic market. We have extensive ambitions to grow our security guarding service which will offer so many opportunities for our clients in the coming months and years.”

Jeremy Spring takes on CFO role

Pilgrims Group has also announced the appointment of Jeremy Spring as Chief Finance Officer.

An experienced Board director, Spring will bring key strategic leadership to Pilgrims Group given his expertise in areas such as growth management, business integration, corporate governance, working capital management, commercial finance and multi-national accounting.

Pilgrims Group’s clients will benefit from Spring’s direction of operational finance, calling on his hands-on knowledge of managing high volume payables and receivable teams, systems integration, accounting infrastructure and customer service.

Jeremy Spring of Pilgrims Group

Jeremy Spring of Pilgrims Group

Chief Operating Officer David Freear commented: “We’re thrilled that Jeremy has joined the company and excited to add such financial expertise to our senior management team in order to create, support and drive the strategy of the business.”

Jeremy Spring stated: “Pilgrims Group has grown significantly in the last five years, establishing itself as a trusted industry partner. Through the proven expert delivery of high quality services and the prioritisation of customer service, the Group is looking to build on its phenomenal reputation and I’m overjoyed to be joining at such an exciting time in the company’s life.”

A member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Spring arrives at Pilgrims Group having spent more than 15 years in the international customer services’ industry, most recently working for a fast-paced, industry-leading multinational corporation with a global footprint.

All you need to know about… Pilgrims Group

Pilgrims Group is a medium-sized company with a global network and a strong crisis management background.

The company provides security guarding and intelligence services for businesses across the UK, including clients operational in the pharmaceutical, media and oil sectors.

Pilgrims Group also operates in countries including Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Ukraine and has helped clients in times of international crises (including 2013’s tropical storm in the Philippines and the disasters in both New Orleans and Haiti).

Complementing its security guarding offer, Pilgrims Group’s consultancy services include crisis management, evacuation, relocation, business continuity plans and reviews, training and specialist security exercises.

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Pilgrims Group’s online eGuarding education package realises benefits for end users

A programme of training for security officers known as eGuarding™ has been developed by security and risk management specialist Pilgrims Group to tackle some of the biggest challenges faced in the sector, and is already delivering significant benefits for the organisation’s customer base.

The new interactive online training package was developed in-house. In recent tests, staff who undertook the training showed a 40% increase in their knowledge and ability to apply the learning to real life situations in their day-to-day roles.

Pilgrims Group’s Chief Operating Officer David Freear explained: “We developed the training last year in response to a number of challenges which can be found within the security guarding sector. These include lack of continuous training and officers not always being up-to-speed with standard operating procedures together with the general routine and monotony of the role, all of which can ultimately mean security officers may not be as alert and ready to deal with emergencies as they could be.”

The eGuarding education programme developed by Pilgrims Group is reaping benefits for both staff and customers alike

The eGuarding education programme developed by Pilgrims Group is reaping benefits for both staff and customers alike

The training system was developed to be simple, strongly visual, engaging and interactive, covering all the key skills and competencies required. The officers can complete the course around their day-to-day roles.

“What we have created is unique and innovative. There is nothing like it out there,” added Freear. “We sought to create something which challenges officers to think, to understand how their roles fit into the wider picture and provide regular assessments and practice. We wanted the officers to feel more motivated and further engaged with our clients’ businesses and therefore not just happier at work but also more responsive.”

The Pilgrims Competency Licence

The training package is now part of a major programme of training, tracking, examinations and competencies which are continually monitored and eventually lead to a Pilgrims Competency Licence.

To maintain their currency and continue to hold their licences, each officer must now complete and pass an online assessment and examination on a regular basis.

David Humm, security manager for one of Pilgrims pharmaceutical client’s sites, was one of the first to complete the training. Humm commented: “When I was informed that Pilgrims was developing an e-Learning package I hoped it would be interactive, progressive and, most importantly, offer me something job-specific and relevant to my role. My team and I were fortunate to have had the opportunity to trial the system before it was rolled out through the company. I was really impressed with the work which had been put into the whole concept. I found the platform easy to navigate and operate and, thankfully, it’s not remotely boring as it really captures the user’s imagination.”

David Freear: Chief Operating Officer at Pilgrims Group

David Freear: Chief Operating Officer at Pilgrims Group

David Freear added: “One of the major benefits to clients is that the training can be tailored to their company’s requirements, which means they can have an interactive training package that’s bespoke and covers the specific threats and issues the business may face.”

The training system is being continually developed with further enhancements to be incorporated across 2014-2015.

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Pilgrims Group’s swift response protects news organisations in Ukraine

International security specialist Pilgrims Group has proven itself ‘the security company of choice’ for media organisations working in the Ukraine during recent political unrest.

The company has been working with journalist teams throughout the country during the political disturbances which resulted in the departure of ousted president Victor Yanukovych in February, the installation of an interim Government and the subsequent Russian military intervention in Crimea.

At one point, Pilgrims had 13 teams deployed across the Ukraine supporting a number of media organisations and ensuring their correspondents and camera crews were kept safe in what was a volatile and changing political climate.

The company has teams in many of the country’s major population centres, including Kiev, Donetsk, Lviv, Kharkov, Odessa and throughout Crimea.

International security specialist Pilgrims Group has proven itself ‘the security company of choice’ for media organisations working in the Ukraine during the recent political unrest

International security specialist Pilgrims Group has proven itself ‘the security company of choice’ for media organisations working in the Ukraine during the recent political unrest

“Initially, the challenges facing our teams were the dangers associated with rioting,” explained Phil Drinkwater, operations manager at Pilgrims. “We have been keeping news teams safe and remaining alert to potential threats, such as personal attack or even flying bullets, while they’ve carried out their work interviewing and reporting on the situation.”

Drinkwater continued: “Now the threat has changed slightly, with protests from all sides of the political spectrum combined with the potential for military operations starting in the country. There has also been a growth in ill-feeling towards the Western media.”

Drinkwater also stated that Pilgrims has been able to respond rapidly to broadcasters’ demands by drawing on its extensive networks to mobilise former special services personnel, who were on duty within 12 hours of the clients’ initial requests (and frequently considerably quicker).

Pilgrims Group has teams in many of the country’s major population centres, including Kiev, Donetsk, Lviv, Kharkov, Odessa and throughout Crimea

Pilgrims Group has teams in many of the country’s major population centres, including Kiev, Donetsk, Lviv, Kharkov, Odessa and throughout Crimea

In addition, the company continues to maintain the highest level of awareness of the unfolding political situation in the Ukraine by maintaining its local contact network, with regular updates of information on the ground.

*Due to the sensitive nature of their role, the client organisations preferred not to be named

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Sir David Veness joins Pilgrims Group in senior advisory role

Internationally renowned counter-terrorism expert Sir David Veness CBE QPM has joined global security specialist Pilgrims Group in the role of senior advisor.

Formerly Under-Secretary General of the UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS), the body responsible for the global security of UN staff and operations, Sir David will further enhance Pilgrims Group’s capacity and capabilities in overseas security operations across both the public and private sectors.

Pilgrims Group (which provides training and security to Government bodies, NGOs and private companies in countries including the UK, USA, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Algeria, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Pakistan and Kuwait) has experienced between 15% and 30% growth annually over the last 16 years and built an impressive track record protecting its clients in countries with challenging political environments, including a 100% safety record globally.

Sir David Veness CBE QPM

Sir David Veness CBE QPM

Development at home and abroad

Sir David Veness boasts vast experience, having held the role of Assistant Commissioner (Specialist Operations) at New Scotland Yard from 1994 to 2005 where he dealt with counter-terrorism and security issues.

“I’m impressed by the high quality team at Pilgrims Group and the leadership of the company,” commented Sir David. “As a senior advisor, I’m looking forward to contributing towards the development of the Group at home and abroad. In particular, I’m keen to support the exemplary security role Pilgrims Group plays in this industry, which has already been recognised by a series of awards.”

Sir David is an Honorary Professor of Terrorism Studies at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, Chairman of the London First Advisory Board on Security and Resilience and Co-Chairman of the Executive Board of the Cross Sector Safety and Security Communications (CSSC) programme.

Speaking about Sir David’s appointment, Pilgrims Group managing director Bill Freear explained: “We’re absolutely delighted to announce that Sir David Veness has joined the team. Sir David’s knowledge of how markets are affected by global terrorism and his experience of policing and international staff safety and security at the highest level will be invaluable to our strategic planning, and is set to further benefit our clients across all sectors.”

Freear continued: “Sir David’s decision to join Pilgrims demonstrates that he believes in our team and the standards we represent. He sees the continuation of Pilgrims’ strategic growth, both within the UK and across overseas security and risk management markets.”

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Pilgrims Group’s finest recognised at annual Security Officer of the Year Awards

Pilgrims Group’s Security Officer of the Year Awards Ceremony has once again recognised the outstanding achievements and performances of security professionals within its business at both the individual and team levels.

The 2013 event took place at Hoebridge Golf Club in Surrey, combining a fun golf competition for all nominees prior to a sit down lunch and the awards ceremony.

The criteria on which regional and national officers were judged included proactiveness, effort, reliability and added value, while the criteria for the national team awards included the assessment of qualities such as motivation and enthusiasm, good teamwork and communication.

The Team Gold Award for 2013 went to the team in Grimsby

The Team Gold Award for 2013 went to the team in Grimsby

Recognising hard work and dedication

“The selection process is vigorous and aims to recognise the hard work, dedication and vital service that Pilgrims employees provide,” explained the company’s contract development manager, Des Ewers.

“The process starts with Pilgrims regional operations managers and contract development managers selecting the nominees for a bronze, silver and gold officer and their best team. Regional management teams then meet to verify their nominees and vote on the national officer nominees and the national teams.”

Left top right: David Freear with Chris Piponias, the Gold Award winner in the National Officer competition

Left to right: David Freear with Chris Piponias, the Gold Award winner in the National Officer competition

The last stage is completed by the Board of Directors at Pilgrims’ headquarters, where the final positions are decided.

Ewers added: “The process is thorough and assures that all winners are truly deserving of this recognition for their part in the company’s continued high level of service provision and success.”

Pilgrims teams at one pharmaceutical client’s sites took home an impressive three of the 15 awards bestowed at this year’s presentation, with the team at Grimsby being crowned winners of the Gold Award for National Team of the Year.

The awards were met with delight from recipients, with one Gold Award winner stating: “I’d like to express my thanks to the Pilgrims team for organising a fantastic day. I’m both proud and humbled by the award.”

Joe Gough (right): Gold Award winner in the South

Joe Gough (right): Gold Award winner in the South

Dave Freear, Pilgrims’ COO, said: “All of our officers do a truly fantastic job and I’d like to personally thank every one of them for their dedication and commitment. These awards recognise those members of staff who have gone yet another step above and beyond their normal duties, but we know the hard work that every single one of our team members puts in every day to ensure our clients receive the best service.”

A tribute to Cadwell Mashininga

Attendees were saddened by the news that one of the winners passed away suddenly ten days before the awards.

Cadwell Mashininga joined Pilgrims Group in September 2008. A winner last year, he was recognised again this year for his dedication with the Southern Region Bronze Award.

“It’s with great sadness we announce that Cadwell has passed away, and he will be sadly missed,” said Dave Freear. “We went ahead with the presentation and observed a minute’s silence in memory of Cadwell. The award was then passed on to his widow, Lena.”

Pilgrims will be honouring Cadwell with the addition of a Special Award of Achievement at future ceremonies. The Mashininga Award will be presented to the security officer who has developed the most over the year.

Pilgrims Security Officer of the Year Awards: the results in full

National Officer
Gold – Chris Piponias
Silver – Joe Gough
Bronze – Sheeraz Saleem

Regional Officer (London)
Gold – Chris Piponias
Silver – Roy Livings
Bronze – Clement Aikens

Regional Officer (South)
Gold – Joe Gough
Silver – Linda George
Bronze – Cadwell Mashininga

Pilgrims Group's Sheeraz Saleem: Gold Award winner in the North

Pilgrims Group’s Sheeraz Saleem: Gold Award winner in the North

Regional Officer (North)
Gold – Sheeraz Saleem
Silver – Garry Armstrong
Bronze – John Friar

Team of the Year*
Gold – Grimsby Team
Silver – London Team
Bronze – Frimley Team

*Exact locations not given due to client confidentiality)

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