Great career for Downham Market apprentice is in the pipeline

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Apprentice plumber Livvi Hodges is already making a name for herself in a trade which historically has been male-dominated.

And she’s just 20.

Livvi, who lives at Downham and is a plumber with Freebridge Community Housing, walked away with the Apprentice or Trainee of the Year prize at the Mayor’s Awards for Business 2013.

But she hasn’t rested on her laurels, and has just gone on to win gold for her plumbing skills in a competition run by building firm R G Carter held at Lowestoft College, beating all the others in her group of ten.

She is passionate about her job, having started as an apprentice four years ago at Lynn’s College of West Anglia and is due to complete her Level 3 qualification this year with solar and gas.

Being a female working in a field pre-dominately occupied by men, doesn’t faze her one bit. “I don’t think it’s any different to working anywhere else – I am treated as an equal,” said Livvi, who regularly works with experienced plumber Owen Gaylard and carpenter Ciaran Lynch.

“I don’t think I could have worked with anyone better than them – we get along really well.”

Owen is her mentor and gives her practical advice when she is at work and she has the opportunity to learn new skills all the time.

Her work can take her to properties across the borough and can involve conversions, general maintenance and repairs. Most recently she has been working at the community centre at Providence Street, Lynn, where the upstairs area is being converted into a flat.

“It’s an old building and we have had to take out all the old pipework made from lead, iron and steel and replace it with copper. It’s quite a physical job, but I don’t think about it, I just get on with it,” said Livvi.

“What I like about what I do is the variety – I don’t just do plumbing but I am trained to be multi-skilled. I do tiling, carpentry, plastering, painting woodwork and walls, drilling floors with a Kango and even knock down walls if necessary using a hammer!”

Throughout her working day she is accompanied by a qualified skilled operator, and when she’s not at work, she also does jobs for her family. “I changed my Nan’s taps and fitted an outside tap at my home, My sister, Jess, has just moved into a new home so there will be some refurbishment work which will need doing there.”

Livvi chose plumbing after seeing the course available at college. “I had always been bit of tom boy and when I was younger, I used to like helping my granddad who was a mechanic.”

Out of working hours, Livvi enjoys the gym most days and is a striker and midfielder for Downham Ladies’ football team, who have just won the Cambridge S-Tech League – another accolade to add to her list.

Winning the Mayor’s Award was an important moment for her. She said: “I am really proud and it is a big boost to my confidence. It recognises all the hard work.”

She said one of the most rewarding things of all about her job, was when she receives thanks from tenants for the work she has done. “It makes you feel appreciated and the fact that they have gone out of their way to sit down and write a letter, is such a kind gesture.”

n The sponsor of the Apprentice or Trainee Award was Roomfoss.