Stadium supremo backs Mail fight

Tony Aikenhead with the campaign poster
Tony Aikenhead with the campaign poster

A HARTLEPOOL man who spearheaded the building of the London 2012 Olympic stadium has backed the Mail’s fitness campaign.

Tony Aikenhead, 58, was back in his native North-East as the guest of honour at a business lunch in Hartlepool.

He praised the Mail’s Race For Fitness campaign which aims to get 2,012 people improving their health between now and the lighting of the Olympic flame on July 27.

Tony was the man in charge of making sure the 80,000 capacity Olympic stadium was built on time and within budget. He did it under the £496m target and two months early, spearheading 1,000 people in a project called Team Stadium.

He said: “It was great to have been part of the success of building the Olympic stadium and particularly motivating to know that so many sportsmen and sportswomen will come to London in July and take part in the games.”

He praised Race For Fitness and said: “It should also be really motivating to all of us to feed off that enthusiasm and commitment, and get ourselves fitter.”

Tony – the director of operations in the UK for construction and civil engineering company Sir Robert McAlpine – was born in Hartlepool but left the town when he was less than a year old when his policeman father Tom got jobs around the North-East.

He spent most of his childhood in the Chester-le-Street area of County Durham and his sixth form years at school in Barnard Castle.

After becoming a trainee quantity surveyor, he became global head of international new buildings with a Swiss firm before joining Sir Robert McAlpine as project director of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium in 2007.

He said he was now on a fitness programme himself after completing his Olympic task, adding: “I am back doing super-sets in the gym.”

Tony was the guest speaker at the first-ever Hartlepool Business Celebration lunch held by Tilly Bailey and Irvine solicitors in partnership with the Hartlepool Business Forum.

He detailed how the Olympic task was to create a low-carbon, zero-waste games and they achieved that by recycling 97 per cent of the waste on site.

Speaking to dozens of delegates at the Wynyard Park lunch, Mr Aikenhead said: “It has been a tremendous honour to come back here today. I am very humbled to come and tell our little tale.”

He described how the whole Team Stadium workforce worked so well together you sometimes could not tell the difference between who was on design and who was on construction.

He told of the scale of detail incorporated in the Olympic stadium, including having floodlights built high so that there would be no flicker for the television cameras, and every bit of construction soil being washed and cleaned at two on-site soil hospitals so that none of it went to waste.

At the end of his speech, he was presented with mementoes of Hartlepool including a framed picture of the Headland and a cup with the monkey legend depicted on it, by TBI partner Martin Levinson.