Welcome to my new blog, where I will be posting news on any matters related to Mand Made and our core activities. If you are visiting this website for the first time, you may have already realised that Mand Made is an electrical contractor established and run by a woman. So it is perhaps fitting that in our first ever blog I must report the sad passing of a woman who was dedicated to challenging the cultures that would exclude women from the opportunity of having a business such as mine.
Annette Williams re-trained as a motor mechanic in her early 30s, winning the UK silver medal in her City and Guilds exams and, with two friends, went on to found a garage in Sheffield staffed entirely by female mechanics. She became a trainer of women in non-traditional trades at Bradford College and later started the United Kingdom Resources Centre (UKRC), dedicated to promoting change in science and engineering for women.
I first encountered the UKRC ten years ago when it provided a bursary to meet the travel expenses of a woman from Hull who wanted to do a work experience placement with my firm. Without it Claire, a single mum, could not have afforded to make the daily journey to the Peak District, where I was re-wiring a house. Claire went on to become a fully qualified electrician and is still earning her living ‘sparkying’ in Hull. And the UKRC, now Women into Science and Engineering (WISE) continues to do the work Annette started, of improving the gender balance and creating opportunities for women in these areas.
I was privileged to do some electrical work for Annette earlier this year and witness the energy she applied to that project, despite being engaged in protracted treatment for cancer. She was an exacting, enjoyable customer to work for whom, despite her lifelong support and encouragement for tradeswomen, had granted us the work based on our ability to produce a good result, and not on our gender; all at Mand Made appreciated that. We were much saddened to learn in July that Annette had passed away, too soon, at the age of 61.
Click here to view Annette’s obituary in The Guardian.