Walsall NHS worker Naheed Razzaq has been soaking up the Commonwealth Games knowing her son has made a major splash of his own at the hugely successful event.
Tahir Razzaq is the Construction Lead for main contractor Wates Construction, which built the £86m Sandwell Aquatic Centre, and is the son of Naheed, Outreach Support Officer at Walsall Palliative Care Centre.
Not only did Tahir, 31, lead the project which has attracted royalty, including Prince William and Princess Kate, Prince Edward and former Prime Minister Theresa May as well as some of the world’s top divers and swimmers, but he is now overseeing its transition to a community facility.
As the only brand new venue for the Games, Sandwell Aquatics Centre has been a main focal venue for the Games. It houses a swimming and diving competition pool and hosted more medal events than any other. A temporary swimming and para swimming warm-up pool was also built at the facility, as well as a dry dive training area.
Over 1.2 million gallons of water – equivalent to 9.6 million pints of beer – was taken to fill both the competition pool and dive pool, while over 192,000 ceramic tiles were laid within Phase 1.
In terms of supporting the local community, around a third (30 per cent) of those working on the project were from people with a postcode within 10 miles of the site and over half (53 per cent) were from within 20 miles.
Tahir, or Taz as he is known, is very proud at delivering such an important and prestigious venue that has been seen around the world.
“It’s been quite surreal seeing it on TV,” he said. “Watching that first session was a weird feeling. I’ve led on other works such as Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital library, but in terms of the profile and attracting royals and ministers, this is definitely the best and most high profile project I’ve been involved in. Hopefully it propels me on to other things.
“When you can put on your CV that you built the only new build facility for the Commonwealth Games it’s quite a proud moment.”
Like most projects of such a scale, Taz admits it wasn’t without its challenges but he and his team managed to overcome them and proudly deliver on time.
“We started work in June 2019 and went to site in January 2020 and finished in April 2022,” said Taz, who is pictured alongside mum Naheed and seventh from the left next to the competition pool. “We had to keep the project going through the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest challenge was ensuring the project was delivered successfully during the pandemic.
“At its peak we were employing 200 people on site and with staff that was about 250. We had twice weekly testing and a vaccination centre on site to keep everyone as safe as possible.”
Now with the closing ceremony of a hugely successful Games over, the venue will be reconfigured, including the removal of the 4,000 temporary seats, and additional leisure facilities will be added before the centre reopens as a community facility in the summer of 2023.
“The legacy works now involve building two sports halls, a gym, a recreation park and a football pitch, which will all be completed as part of the legacy works over the next nine to 12 months,” added Taz, from Penn, Wolverhampton.
Mum of three Naheed, 55, from Tettenhall, could not be more pleased with her son. “I’m very proud of him because I see how hard he works – he often works long hours to ensure everything is running smoothly,” said Naheed, who has worked for the NHS for 21 years, 19 of them for Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust.
Naheed and husband of 34 years Jamil, 61, a retired senior retail store manager, have two other children – son Aamir, 30, a service engineer and daughter Aleena, 24, a biomedical scientist at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust.
And Naheed says Taz, who attended St Peter’s Collegiate School in Compton and graduated with a construction degree from Nottingham University, showed early signs of his future career as a youngster. “Even as a small child, Taz was always building things and breaking them up!” she recalled.
“I’ve seen his journey from university and he’s very dedicated to his job, very driven, and I’ve seen what he’s done to better himself, so it’s fantastic for him to be able to put his name to something so historic,” added Naheed.