Women break glass ceiling

PLASTERING is often viewed as a job for the boys, but two girls have broken the mould and come top of the class.

PLASTERING is often viewed as a job for the boys, but two girls have broken the mould and come top of the class.

When Paula Titchell and Louise Hamlet signed up to a taster day in the plastering workshop at Otley College they didn't know if they would end up sticking around.

But after three years of dedication to the craft, which began with a part-time two year course, the pair have covered themselves in glory by achieving the highest college marks in the country.

After picking up their awards from The Worshipful Company of Plaisterers - a livery for plasters - in a prestigious London ceremony, the Suffolk students are looking to encourage more women into plastering courses.

Miss Titchell, 40, who is now about to start unsupervised teaching of plastering to teenagers at Otley, said: “When I originally went onto the course people laughed at me and were asking why would you want to do that. But I explained I loved it.

“Now when I tell people about it they're surprised a woman can do it. I am not would you would expect a woman in construction to look like but I can certainly plaster a wall.”

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She added: “With the diplomas coming in I would like to encourage girls and boys to get themselves a trade and I wish I had taken the opportunity to do this earlier.”

The two women, who didn't previously know each other, were both looking to get out of the monotonous slog of office work and became involved in a taster plastering session at Otley through a scheme known as the Dido Project - which looked to get women into previously male-orientated jobs.

The Martlesham resident, a mother of one, quickly attained her solid plastering certificate and has now been recognised by the livery of Plaisterers for her high attainment in fibrous plastering - a more decorative form of the craft.

Miss Hamlet, 35, who also lives in Martlesham, got her high attainment award in solid plastering and said the college is the perfect place for women to give it a go.

She said: “I would say to other women study at a college because it is a nice environment and it is not a sexist environment. It is a good way to test the craft rather than being on a building site.”

She said she could not see herself working on a building site in the future, but with her qualification she now wants to go into historical restoration.

Both the women, who were presented their awards by the Lord Mayor of London on October 29, said they were really proud of their achievements and wished to thank their tutor.