Annie Bowman, 47, Painter & Decorator

Annie Bowman, 47, Painter & Decorator

Posted by Victoria Hamilton on

How long you have been in your trade: Since 2007 – 11 years

What got you interested in your job?  I was very fed up working in boring admin office jobs, and after being made redundant for the third time and still not qualifying for a pension, I found a women’s only course in Oxford, where I was living at the time, and decided to give it a go.  I only really intended to use it to do up my own house, as I was always painting walls and furniture, but then friends started asking me to work for them, and before I knew it I had a level 2 city and guilds certificate and was setting up my own business.

I don’t think women in their 30s could do apprenticeships at the time, although I was offered a job training with a large building firm after doing some work experience with them.  Unfortunately it would have been impossible to do the hours they needed me to do as they often needed you to go to London very early in the morning, which I couldn’t fit in as it was too early for childminders of preschool clubs, and too late returning home too.

I gradually built up confidence and speed working on my own house and for friends, also working with other women on the course on bigger jobs that came up.  And within a year or so I had regular work and repeat business. 

What got you interested in your job? What do you like most about your job?The best thing about the job is seeing the smile on people’s faces when you have finished a job.  They may have no time to do it themselves, don’t enjoy painting or just don’t like decorating.  Once you have taken that burden from them and given them their room back, clean and fresh, they are very happy.  I love helping people decide what colours to choose and the actual painting is very therapeutic. 

What do you dislike most about your job? There really isn’t much I don’t like, although if I had a machine for washing my brushes, I would be very happy

How long have you been using the Recoil Kneepads? I have been using them for a few months now

What is your overall opinion of the Recoil Kneepads? They are good for wearing over trousers that don’t have kneepad pockets in and because you aren’t so low down, they are really easy to go from kneeling to standing.  They are so much more comfortable than kneepads that fit in your trousers, as they are always at the right place.  I am lending them to my friends who are female tradeswomen, mostly over 40 to see how they like them in different trades.

What types of jobs have you used them for? They are really good for sanding and painting skirting boards 

Do you think it is important to take care of your body, specifically knees? What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry about taking care of themselves from an early age? At college when we studied the health and safety part of the course, we were taught about facemasks, ear defenders, various skin diseases and safety specs, but knees were ever mentioned, yet they are one of the most painful things.  I was struggling to walk properly first thing in the morning before I used knee protection, but now I don’t have any problems.  I think it is really important to use as much of the PPE as you can as it does make a difference in the long run, so my advice would be to get into good habits early, before the problems start to manifest themselves.

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