Mark Deacon MRICS
Mark began his career in 1986 as a Trainee Surveyor with Parsons Son & Basley. He then worked for Bernard Thorpe and Strutt & Parker before moving into the world of Telecoms. After a stint with a subsidiary of WorldCom in Warrington and Solihull, he returned to the South East to join Turner & Partners (part of Babcock International Group), opening their Crawley office and rising to equity partner. After seven years, he moved to Newbury, to another niche property company, Hub Professional Services, to oversee their surveying team. Mark returned to sunny Brighton in 2017, when asked to head up the Professional department of Graves Son & Pilcher. With OA and GS&P both being part of the Riversong group, alongside his role at GS&P, in 2020 he was invited to oversee the OA business with fellow Director, John Donovan.
Mark is responsible for the overall financial management and delivery of services at OA. He oversees the surveyors and their workloads, and ensures they continue to grow their areas of expertise. This has allowed us to expand our service offering to include Party Wall work, HomeBuyer Reports and Insurance Reinstatement Valuations. As an RICS APC Chair & Assessor, Mark coordinates the APC and CPD training requirements, ensuring the team are expertly qualified and fully up to date with the latest legislation.
Outside of work, Mark is a long-suffering season ticket holder at The Amex, having endured the Goldstone, Gillingham and Withdean grounds! During the first lockdown, he decided to get fit by taking up running, and just about manages a 5k. He’s a qualified L2 Football Coach and FA Adult Learning Mentor, and was a Director at Worthing Town FC, but has now taken on a non-exec role.
John Donovan BSc MRICS
Director, Chartered Surveyor
John, our most senior Building Surveyor, has over 30 years’ surveying experience. He’s a font of all knowledge, especially when it comes to Defect Diagnosis, and a role model for the rest of the team.
John graduated with a BSc in Building Surveying from South Bank Polytechnic in 1984 and qualified as a Chartered Surveyor in 1990. His early years in surveying were spent in local government but he’s been working in private practice since 1990, providing a range of building surveying services across Sussex and further afield. John worked with Peter Overill Associates in Hove for 14 years, latterly as a Partner, before the firm became Overill Associates and then relaunched as OA Building Surveyors.
His expertise lies in Building Pathology, Contract Administration, Party Wall matters, pre-purchase Building Surveys and Schedules of Dilapidations.
Outside of work, John is an avid supporter of Brighton & Hove Albion FC and very much enjoys watching them play.Email John Donovan
Alexander Gathern BSc (Hons) DipFD AaPS
Associate Director, Senior Building Surveyor
Alexander graduated from The University College of Estate Management in 2018 with a degree in Building Surveying. He has also completed a Diploma in Fire Doors, is an Associate Member of the Association for Project Safety and a member of the Sussex branch of the Pyramus & Thisbe Club, which promotes excellence in Party Wall practice.
Alexander is due to sit his Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) shortly, with the aim of becoming a Chartered Building Surveyor.
Although Alexander’s role is very diverse, he particularly enjoys work relating to Design and Specification, Contract Administration, Building Pathology, Party Wall etc Act 1996 and Fire Safety.
Outside of work, he loves participating in sport. You’ll find him either running by the sea or over The Downs, or playing football for his local team, Steyning Town Community FC, where he’s captain of the first team.Email Alexander Gathern
Vladimir was a painter, decorator and general builder prior to undertaking his Building Surveying degree. He spent several years working for different employers on short and long term contracts across London and the South East. The jobs ranged from small flat conversions to work on large construction sites. The variety and complexity of the work inspired Vladimir to expand his knowledge by completing a university degree in Building Surveying.
Vladimir’s favourite area of surveying is Building Pathology and what he refers to as “life care” - understanding the maintenance required to prolong the life of a property. He’s passionate about solving problems associated with building maintenance.
Outside of work, Vladimir is a keen tennis player. He loves socialising and attending music events.Email Vladimir Lazarevic
Sally began her working life in estate agency in Brighton & Hove. She moved to London in her twenties to continue her career, working for a large independent, Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward. Taking time out to raise her three sons, Sally returned to Sussex and in 2012 joined the Property Management department at Austin Rees, also part of the Riversong group. Sally moved to Overill Associates in 2016, primarily to assist the surveying team with fire precaution works projects.
Her role has evolved into Project Coordinator and she’s now the first point of contact for all new enquires. A crucial member of the team, Sally ensures that operations run smoothly, procedures are followed and client expectations are met. Keen to develop her role further, she’s recently embarked on an in-work apprenticeship course in Business Administration.
Outside of work, Sally is a busy mum and spends much of her spare time on the sidelines of Steyning Town Community Football Club, or preferably in the warm, cheering on the Shoreham Spartans Basketball team. She is also a keen cook, walker and reader.
Senior Surveyors’ Secretary
Jo has 30 years’ office experience. Her first job from school, after learning the ropes, was secretary to a Senior Manager. She also worked as a Teaching Assistant whilst her daughter was in primary school but couldn’t wait to get back to where she feels happiest - working for surveyors. Jo enjoys all aspects of her role at OA, from liaising with clients to producing invoices, but she especially likes typing property reports.
Outside of work, Jo likes to spend quality time with her family and friends. And she likes gin!Email Jo Ware
Hellen is a trained legal secretary. She worked for partners of two different law firms, gaining her Level 1 qualification as a Legal Executive, before moving to a Local Authority. Assisting the Director of Development Services, she stayed in the job for 23 years! Then, looking for a position that would fit better with school holidays, Hellen transferred into primary education and then further education. As her children grew up and could be left to their own devices, she relished the chance to return to the work she loves most – secretarial and admin - which she found at Overill Associates.
Outside of work, Hellen loves to walk her two little Terrier dogs on The Downs or let them scamper along the beach. She feels very fortunate to live within walking distance of both. She loves to relax but also enjoys keeping fit with anything from Body Balance to more frantic exercise, like Body Combat (but not so much of the latter these days!).Email Hellen Wickens
Receptionist / Admin Assistant
Before joining the Riversong group, Sophie spent an amazing few years travelling the world and working in Australia. Her previous work experience was mainly in finance, with roles as an admin assistant and customer service representative. She has also worked in insurance and retail.
You’ll find Sophie behind the front desk at OA, answering the phone and receiving visitors with a welcoming smile. She takes care of the printing and post for the secretaries, processes the purchase orders and helps with other admin tasks.
Outside of work, Sophie enjoys long walks with her dog and exploring Sussex’s waterways on her paddle board.Email Sophie Addison
Imogen Mergler BA (Hons) MCIM
Imogen began her marketing career in the world of designer fragrances and cosmetics. After eight years managing Versace, Matthew Williamson, Agent Provocateur and other well-known brands for the UK and duty free sector, she took time out to start a family, before launching her own marketing agency. Specialising in marketing strategy and copywriting, Imogen helped local businesses to gain perspective, build their client base and thrive. As a business mentor for Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce, she assisted numerous start-ups as well as established SMEs. Attracted by the opportunities presented by the Riversong group of companies, she then moved into the property sector. Imogen is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, with over 20 years’ experience.
In her current role, Imogen plans and implements the marketing for the whole Riversong group. She’s responsible for the repositioning of OA Building Surveyors, increasing awareness of the brand, promoting the services, supporting new business acquisition and helping to improve client retention. She oversees the social media and handles the company’s charity and community work.
Outside of work, Imogen loves walking on the South Downs, kayaking and paddle boarding. Her original degree in languages inspired a love of travel, which she hopes to resume when lockdown lifts.Email Imogen Mergler
Rebecca began her working life in travel and tourism, where she developed an interest in travelling ‘off the beaten track’. However, her adventures were quickly curtailed by the arrival, in quick succession, of three lovely children. While they were of school age, she worked in various educational admin roles, including Office Manager, Head Teacher’s PA and Finance Manager, gaining a broad skillset and qualifications that proved invaluable when she progressed to working for local government.
Rebecca has been with OA Building Surveyors for two and a half years and has really enjoyed the challenge of switching from the public sector to a commercial environment. She always enjoyed the ‘people’ element of her previous roles and is now very pleased to be able to focus solely on HR responsibilities. Rebecca is a strong advocate of lifelong learning and development in the workplace and is herself studying for the CIPD HR Level 5 qualification.
Outside of work, Rebecca loves to cycle anywhere she can, but especially along the beautiful South Downs Way and also commuting the 37.5 mile round trip between office and home (thank goodness for e-bikes!). She also loves visiting her children in New Zealand – they are now all grown up and have discovered their own passions for travelling ‘off the beaten track’.Email Rebecca Luckin