NEWS

2012-03-02

Beauty-school drop out

SHE might be more at home with make-up and mirrors but this beauty school drop out is taking on men at their own game in her new job as an apprentice PLUMBER.

Pretty Shannon Kelly, from Redditch, Worcestershire, decided to cancel her beauty course plans after working with her plumber uncle, 38-year-old Ian Moorhouse, for pocket money last summer.

The 17-year-old 'girly girl' had planned to study a beauty therapy course alongside her pals but jumped at the chance to switch make-up and hair products for grease and grime when her uncle offered her a permanent job.

And whilst her friends are studying the latest fashion tips or beauty products, hard-working Shannon is getting her hands dirty as she slogs it out on the male-dominated work sites.

"I could have gone on to do a beauty therapy course at college like my friends, but when I was working with my uncle in the summer holidays to earn a bit of money, I started to enjoy it.

“I really enjoy the banter on site and I give as good as I get. The atmosphere is better than sitting in a boring college class all week.

“I am a very girly girl away from site. I've always loved getting dressed up and doing my make-up and I go out with my friends every weekend.

"If someone is coming round after work then I have a quick shower and have to do all my make-up quickly."

In order to get proper qualifications, Shannon studies Plumbing and Heating at Worcester College of Technology every Monday before working with her uncle's Shire Heating and Plumbing firm from Tuesday to Friday.

And the teenager is certainly showing a keen attitude to the job - as she is forced to get the bus from Redditch to Worcester every morning to meet her uncle, because she hasn't passed her driving test yet.

The plucky worker admits she kept her new job secret from her friends at first but isn't ashamed to show off her plumbing skills now she knows she can cut it in the macho world.

"I did keep it a secret from my friends for the first few months, I think I just wanted to see if I could make a living out of it first," added the pretty 17-year-old, who lives at home with her parents.

"They were shocked when I told them and they laughed a bit but now they are just jealous I'm earning more money than them.

"I'm the only girl on my course but I get on better with the other guys than I do with girls to be honest. They respect me and realise that I'm really keen to do well.

“I really like the look on people's faces when I turn up, and I am able to make their homes nice and cosy again.

“Eventually, I want to become a fully qualified plumber and start my own business. I think it is a real advantage being a female in this trade.“

Her proud uncle, and now boss, says he could not be more proud of the hard work his niece has put in since she joined the company - after admitting he did have initial worries.

"I was worried at first because I'm over-protective of her," said Ian, who has worked in plumbing for 25 years.

"But Shannon can take care of herself, to be honest. I am really proud of how everything is working out.

"All the lads on the sites love her to bits and have taken her under their wing. There's certainly no foul language anymore, we must work on the cleanest sites in building.

And the experienced plumber says his latest apprentice has more drive and enthusiasm for the job than most men he has employed in the past.

“It is not easy work. It can be very hard and heavy labour with long days and nights. Shannon gets the bus every day to meet us so its a ten-hour day for her.

"And sometimes we even work nights so she will work till 5am with the rest of us and she never moans.

"I know lads who have worked for me in the past who didn't want to get out of bed but she is the opposite.

"I have never heard of a woman plumber in the 25 years I've been doing this."