A WINCHESTER plumber has shared what it's like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry as demand increases for tradeswomen.

Four per cent of the overall trades industry is made up of females. However, according to research by My Local Toolbox, the number of homeowners searching for tradeswomen has increased significantly, with search terms such as ‘lady plumber near me’ rising by 450 per cent over the past year.

Hannah Lewis runs Winchester and Romsey business Plumbing Bird. Ms Lewis, 49, started her career in 2008 after doing a day taster session at a plumbing academy.

Hampshire Chronicle: Hannah LewisHannah Lewis (Image: My Local Toolbox)

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She said: “Being practical, plumbing suited me more than other trades. So, 15 years ago signed up for all the relevant courses.

“A typical day consists of three to five maintenance jobs, for example, gas appliance servicing, repairs, radiator valve replacements, some plumbing maintenance although I prefer heating systems only these days.

“Building up relationships with my regular and loyal customers, some of whom I can call my friends after many years is the most rewarding part of being a tradeswoman.

 “My trade is very physical, and I’ve suffered some joint and back problems. However, there are less strenuous jobs that I can specialise in which are less likely to cause problems such as boiler servicing.”

When asked how customers feel having a female tradesperson handling their work, she said: “They generally appreciate it if any tradesperson turns up on time, does the job well and leaves it tidy.”

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My Local Toolbox hopes the next generation of tradeswomen will be inspired by Hannah’s success.

Advising how women should start their trades career, the Winchester plumber said: “Look for a college that offers a trade taster day, so that you can decide whether it’s going to be for you or not, before embarking on the courses.

“It may seem daunting to begin with but if you enjoyed learning the theory and practical workshops of the trade throughout college, there’s nothing holding you back. You will gain valuable experience through making mistakes, but this is part of getting it right and becoming an expert. As long as you come back and remedy ongoing problems, your customers will appreciate your work and honesty.

“Just pace yourself, don’t strain your body by accepting too many heavy jobs, or get help with lifting if you need it - your body needs to last a lifetime.”

For more on Hannah and her work go to Plumbing-Bird.co.uk. And for more on My Local Toolbox go to mylocaltoolbox.co.uk/.