Bodmin girl Abi Hayward among first female apprentices - in sewage
It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.
And today two women have joined the ranks of Britain's sewage workers - becoming the first females to start an apprenticeship in waste.
Abi Hayward, 22, from Bodmin and Deryn Spencer, from Ottery St Mary, Devon 17, will spend two years visiting sewerage works, hand-raking raw sewage to taking samples for testing and using rods to clear blockages.
The pair beat over 500 candidates to become South West Water's first ever female Water Operations Apprentices.
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They will work on sewage sites and treatment plants across Devon and Cornwall during the two year apprenticeship.
Miss Hayward said: “I've always wanted to do something outdoorsy and have always had an interest in the environment, so this job is ideal as it allows me to combine the two.
“I'm not fazed by the fact that I'm going to be surrounded by sewage during the next few years.
“A lot of the work we do is very dirty and most people would probably presume that females wouldn't want to do it, but it's great.
“I'm loving it so far and really like the fact that it's so hands on - it's definitely not a 9 to 5 office job.
“The men we work with don't seem too bothered by us either and have actually been pretty supportive.
Miss Hayward, an Illustrations graduate from Lanhydrock, will be working in Waste Water Services in Bodmin, Cornwall during her apprenticeship.
She said: “I studied for a degree in illustration at Plymouth University, but realised soon after beginning the course that I wanted to do something that's as far away from office work as possible.
“This is very practical which I love and I'm really looking forward to getting stuck in.”
The pair wear yellow fluorescent jackets and hard hats on site alongside 44 other male apprentices who joined South West Water last month.
Miss Spencer, 17, said: “I was studying for my A levels and got half way through and realised I wanted to do something completely different.
“I really wanted to do something that was as far away from an office job as possible so when I got the job I was really pleased.
“People are quite shocked when I tell them what I do as it is quite different, but I love it.”
The trainees work within its Drinking Water and Waste Water Services, along with Operation Support Services.
The apprentices each have a nominated mentor whilst studying for a level three qualification from a training provider.
There are 46 apprentices on the two year course at South West Water who make up around 4 per cent of its workforce.
South West Water's operations director Dr Stephen Bird said: “We have had an exceptional response with over 580 applications from young people across the region.
“We are also pleased to welcome our first female apprentices to the programme and hope their appointment will encourage other young women to pursue a practical career in the water industry.”