From the only girl in plumbing class to college estates boss – rapid rise for young handywoman

A FORMER plumbing student is building a career in estate management following a rapid rise through the ranks at Coleg Cambria.

Aged just 23, Laura Hughes has been promoted to Estates Officer with responsibility for the college’s Deeside site, including the £14m Sixth Form Centre.

Having joined the department as an apprentice four years ago, she quickly became a technician, then supervisor, before taking on the new position last week.

Growing up in Rhes-y-Cae, Laura lived on a small holding with her family and always had a keen interest in tools and machinery.

After leaving Holywell High School she began a course in Plumbing at Cambria’s Bersham Road base in Wrexham.

The only girl in a class of more than 20 boys – she took a bus and taxi from the Flintshire village to the college every morning – Laura completed the course but was sadly unable to find an employer.

After working in various hospitality roles, she successfully applied to join the Estates team and has never looked back.

“I always wanted to work in the trades, but when I couldn’t find a company to take me on as an apprentice, I thought the chances of doing so had passed me by,” she said.

“Being a female in that industry is still quite rare, so I don’t know if that played a part, but on being recruited to the Estates department at Coleg Cambria I was able to get back to manual tasks and fixing things, which is what I love to do.

“I’ve always been ambitious and after receiving the college’s Apprentice of the Year Award less than 12 months after joining them it gave me the spark to reach even further and really test myself.

“I love working with the team, they’re all so supportive and helped to boost my confidence; the new job is great, and it is a lot of responsibility, but I enjoy it and look forward to seeing what the future will bring.”

Meeting the challenges of the Coronavirus have been unprecedented, but Laura – who will be managing a team of five people – says the safety of staff and students has been paramount throughout the pandemic.

Cambria’s Head of Estates Graham Evans echoed those words and congratulated her on making such swift progress.

“Laura is a key member of the department and always looking to develop her skills and experience,” he said.

“Throughout Covid we have been working hard to make the college as secure and safe as possible while also opening new facilities and planning for the future. She has been a part of that and as the college continues to develop its estate, her role will be pivotal – well done, Laura.”

Visit www.cambria.ac.uk for more from Coleg Cambria.