Facing a career change at the age of 40 might sound like a daunting prospect but for Tracy Perkin, it represented the chance to realise her dreams.
Having worked for the best part of 20 years for a plumber’s merchant selling boiler parts, Plymouth-based Tracy found herself at a career crossroads.
Despite harbouring a burning desire to become a heating engineer, she feared her chance had gone.
That was until we came to the rescue by offering Tracy a heating engineer apprenticeship and she hasn't looked back.
Tracy said: “I have wanted to be a gas engineer for some time but financially I was never in a position to do an apprenticeship.
“To be honest I was worried my chance had passed by and I was always going to be thinking about what might have been.
“Luckily LiveWest don’t hold any barriers and welcome people whatever their age or gender. I applied and I was fortunate enough to secure a post with them.
“I was over the moon and, although I have only been working with LiveWest for three months, it is the best thing that could have happened to me. It has literally changed my life.
“Having worked with LiveWest in my former career, I knew they were the organisation I wanted to work for because of their focus on great customer services and the way they support and develop their employees.”
Tracy was not the least bit fazed at breaking into a male dominated industry and has urged more women to take the plunge.
Estimates suggest that there are fewer than 500 females from the 100,000 Gas Safe registered engineers in the country but Tracy says that statistic can change if greater emphasis is placed on encouraging more women into the industry.
Tracy added: “I guess I am flying the flag for women as this is an industry traditionally dominated by men.
“Some customers look surprised when I arrive at their door as they are expecting a man but the feedback has been great.
“What I would say is that more women should have a go at these trades because you gain some fantastic skills.
“The apprenticeship itself is brilliant because you have a mentor with you all of the time who guides you through the practical jobs.
“I am a practical person so the best way for me to learn is have a go at things. I have learnt so much already.
“If you are not a classroom person, on the job training is an excellent way to learn.
“And it is all thanks to LiveWest for believing in me and giving me the platform to show I can do this.”
As for the future, Tracy has got lofty career aspirations.
She said: “In the short term I want to get my gas apprenticeship – my NVQ Level Three – in the next two-and-a-half years.
“After that I want to be out on the road on my own, fixing boilers and making a difference in the communities LiveWest operates in.
“For me, it is all about putting a smile on customer’s faces.”