Aurora Health Physics Services Ltd : "Our mission is to support our clients to ensure the safe use of radiation, protect people in their workplace and improve the environment. "
Member Since: 2012
Interview Date: June 2020
What is your name and role?
Glenn Hardcastle (RPA/RWA), Director Operations & Business Development, Aurora Health Physics Services Ltd.
What does Aurora do?

We provide Ionising and Non-ionising Radiation Protection services, including: Consultancy, Radiological Surveys, Remediation and Decommissioning, Facility Design and Testing, Training, Non-Ionising Radiation Surveys, and Provision of Health Physics Personnel.

Where are you based?

In Harwell and Newcastle; and all over the UK working safely from home too.

Some of the team enjoying hands-on fire safety training.
What was the first service the company provided?

When we started the business, we provided RPA Consultancy & Training services and had just a couple of clients.  Since then we’ve kept to our values of delivering a quality, caring and professional service.

What's your latest service?

On-line ‘live and interactive’ radiation protection training.

Tell us more about that

Due to the current challenges, we decided to take our entire portfolio of training courses and make them available online.  We’ve had to be innovative and think of new ways to make this work, effectively breaking the mould of more traditional practices.  We felt it important to deliver these improvements now, not only for our business, but because it helps clients keep in touch.  They have been able to attend training from home, and in some cases, whilst furloughed.

Aurora's online training room.
Do you have a mission statement?

Yes, our mission is to support our clients to ensure the safe use of radiation, protect people in their workplace and improve the environment.

What's the best thing about your organisation?

21 amazing people.

Describe your organisation in three words.

Quality, caring and professional.

What has been the most memorable SRP conference you have attended and why?

Scarborough 2019: The Art and Science of Radiation Protection.  We had such a good reception from the delegates, with a continuous stream of people happy to approach us and who wanted to try our “Virtual Reality Tour” and “Digger Challenge”.

We all particularly enjoyed the eight-minute talks presented by those taking part in the Young Professionals Award (including Fearnley and Joel); these are always innovative and punchy.

Joel and Steve on the stand in Scarbrorough, with the popular 'Digger Challenge' and 'Virtual Reality Tour'.
What do you enjoy most about attending SRP conferences?

As the stand is staffed by radiation protection professionals, we all really enjoy the conferences for the opportunity to talk with people who are at the sharp end of working with radiation,  sharing experiences of managing radiation safety.   At Scarborough, the Aurora Team took turns to look after the stand, and so had opportunities to listen to, and learn from, the presenters too (and collect CPD points).

What's your most popular giveaway at conferences?!

Although the drinks bottles and portable phone chargers run out quickly, the most popular giveaway is definitely the Aurora notebook (and pen).  It’s great to think that Aurora’s name is sitting on desks across the globe.

Why are you an Affiliated Organisation?

We’ve always been a strong supporter of SRP. Several members of the Aurora Team are active members of a number of SRP Committees and Working Groups (and have been for many years).  Being an Affiliated Organisation means that we are part of a group of organisations committed to supporting the Society. It also allows us to share knowledge and support like-minded colleagues, especially during these unusual times.

Do you support a particular charity?

We have supported Helen & Douglas House in Oxford for many years; they provide hospice care for babies and children in Oxfordshire and surrounding counties.  More recently we’ve also made donations to St Oswald’s Hospice in Newcastle.  We may think our work is important, but after visiting and seeing what these charities do each and every day, you really do appreciate what else is important!

How has COVID-19 changed the way you work?

The team has always been robust and flexible in how they work, so switching to working from home was not an issue – although home-schooling while working has been a challenge!

The pandemic restrictions have really made us think.  We have asked ourselves a lot of questions about how we deliver our services, not only to keep things moving, but also to use this time to improve and innovate. 

We implemented the ‘Aurora Restart’ (Survive Reset Thrive) initiative from day one and it’s resulted in some exciting ideas about how to develop and deliver our services, including the use of technology for future consultancy services.  We’ve already implemented several Reset & Thrive ideas.

However, as a People Business, it’s People First – Always!

The Strawberry UV machine (courtesy of Saga Robotics). Aurora recently provided advice and support in the development of this new product, that supports healthy strawberry growth without the use of harmful pesticides or fungicides.
Do you have any interesting stories to tell?

There are quite a few related to dealings with Madam Curie and William Crookes' radioactive legacies.  One story that springs to mind was when a client showed us several items belonging to Crookes which were stored inside a large warehouse (picture the scene from Indiana Jones…).  He then started moving one of the items: a large bench spectrometer.  We immediately told him to stop touching and moving the items as they might be contaminated – too late!  He ended up going home in just his pants and disposable coverall!

On a follow-up visit we were asked to decommission another interesting item (a beta-ray spectrometer) previously used by the military.

Beta ray decommisioning.
Any funny stories?

We have lots; here are a few:

A couple of Aurora colleagues went on a mini cruise (to carry out onboard RP safety audits). Unfortunately, one had the same name as a crew member.  Consequently, he was treated as staff despite protests, had to report to the purser, and do evacuation training sessions.  He explained he wasn’t the onboard comedian but was indeed a radiation expert; which for some reason made the rest of the crew laugh. However, he did get a discount on drinks!

On a recent RPA visit, our client told us they knew all about RP.  On entering a laboratory, they said: “This lab was used for some rad work, it was ‘trilliam’ but that’s only got a 12 year ‘shelf-life’”.

A few years ago, we were working in a client's clean-room environment.  To enter the area, we had to change into medical scrubs.  Our host was wearing his wife’s knickers… awkward!

Do you have any team building stories?

We have regular team outings. These have included getting locked up in escape rooms and an away day including driving a 4x4 with its steering purposely fitted back to front, and quad bikes too. Without going into too much detail, imagine numerous straw bales; a 4x4, quad bikes and several Aurora folk all moving swiftly in different directions!

More recently we have started weekly team quizzes, testing our knowledge of x-ray images of chocolate bars, Pictionary and face swap Who’s Who.

Emma wins again!
Finally, what question haven't we asked you, that we should have done?

Who had a romantic encounter with a Womble?

So, who had a romantic encounter with a Womble?

Come and find out at SRP's Annual Conference in Bournemouth in 2021!


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