M42 project team are the apple of Rhys’s eye


17 Jan 2024

The team behind National Highways’ safety enhancements on the M42 near Birmingham are the apple of one particular commuter’s eye after completing a rather unusual request.

M42 project team are the apple of Rhys’s eye

Rhys Davies, an amateur apple grower from Solihull, emailed the project team to ask about fruit he saw growing on the roadside verge near the M42/M40 interchange during his commute to Malvern. He was curious to find out the species and asked if anyone could take a cutting for him. His request was investigated by bmJV, the team delivering the safety scheme, which sent site operatives into the verge to collect some apples and take cuttings.

The apple tree, near junction 3a of the M42


Rhys, who has been growing apples on his patio for a couple of years, was then invited to the site compound to collect them. He said: “I was driving through the works at the M40/M42 interchange each day and seeing the apple tree in the verge continued to pique my curiosity so late one evening I sent an email to National Highways. I knew they were working on the central reservation, so I thought I’d ask if one of the guys there would reach across to the verge and take a cutting for me.

“I got an email back to say they would look into it then heard back from bmJV’s customer manager to say the on-site team had been out and got some fruit and cuttings for me. I was staggered and when I got to the compound I was really surprised at how thorough they’d been. I was expecting a few little cuttings, but they gave me so much! I’m delighted! 

“This was a window on human nature. You don’t expect people to take time out of a busy day to honour a request like this. The guys I met were great, so enthusiastic and happy to have done this for me. Sometimes something is done for you but in a really grouchy way but they weren’t! It was an eye opener on every level to say the least! “I didn’t think anything would come of my email and that my enquiry would fall into a black hole, but I’m pleasantly surprised at the quality of the customer service. It lifts my spirit and has given me confidence that if I ever need to contact National Highways for anything else, I’ll get a good response.” 

Customer Rhys Davies (centre) with bmJV site operative Graham Breakspear and Assistant Traffic Manager Phil Whittaker


Rhys has put some of the cuttings with others on his patio and will try to graft some onto existing growths when the weather warms up, while trying to grow others in a vase.  

National Highways Project Sponsor Nick Wells said: “Customer service is at the very core of our business – quite literally in this case. I’m delighted our project team at bmJV were able to help Rhys and that his approach to us proved fruitful.” 

Rich Knowles, bmJV Construction Manager, said: “This was definitely not the type of request we normally deal with but it was nice to be able to do this for Rhys. It was a pleasure to help and then step away from my desk to meet him with our site operatives. 

“Helping customers isn’t just an add-on – it’s a key part of our schemes and important that it’s supported throughout the team at every level. This has been a brilliant example of putting the road user at the heart of what we do.”

The recently completed M40/M42 safety enhancement scheme involved replacing five-and-a-half miles of steel central reservation barrier with concrete, installing new drainage and replacing lighting. Much of the same team is now delivering similar benefits further along the M42 between junctions 4 and 7, replacing the steel central reservation barrier between junctions 4 and 5 and installing additional CCTV cameras and signage in the motorway verge.  Both schemes are part of a wider programme to enhance safety on sections of motorway being delivered by the SMP Alliance, a National Highways-led enterprise that is driving productivity in construction.

Customer Rhys Davies (second left) with bmJV’s Matthew Clitheroe, Graham Breakspear and Philip Whittaker
bmJV Construction Manager Rich Knowles (left) who actioned the customer enquiry
Apples on the apple tree
The apple tree itself, near junction 3a of the M42