Chloe Whelan is 17 and was born and bred in Bradford. She has just completed her level 1 in painting and decorating at Bradford College. In 2015 she was awarded a WEST bursary of £100 towards equipment.
Why painting and decorating?
I was actually going to do hair and beauty, but I was persuaded by my mum and my sister to try engineering. They said that although there were more jobs in hair and beauty, they were not as well-paid. I tried engineering, but there was only about two hours a week on the machine, and the rest was all writing. I didn’t enjoy it and I wanted to do something more practical so I changed to painting and decorating – and I love it!
What’s your favourite thing about painting and decorating?
Every single day is practical so you get a lot done, and I enjoy that a lot. I like freehand work best. It takes a lot of time and concentration but it is really fun.
What is it like being in a male-dominated training course?
There were four girls in our class but one has left. I knew I would be in a minority because I knew a boy who I went to school with on the course, and he told me. I was fine because I knew him already. And the first day I spoke to the other girls, so I was fine. I fitted in fast. We all get along.
The girls are better than the boys on the course, and the teachers are amazing. They don’t treat us any different. If you need help, they’ll help you. They made it really easy for me to settle in.
What did you want to be when you were a little girl?
A hairdresser. Then a fire fighter, but I grew out of that, and then an architect. I never thought there were girls jobs and boys jobs, except for builders.
How did you feel when you got the WEST bursary?
I was really really shocked! I will get my own paintbrushes now. People use them otherwise and mess them up and that is irritating.
Advice to other women and girls thinking of training to be painters and decorators?
Use your imagination because you’ve got to be good with colour co-ordination and also good at measuring. Be confident! Don’t walk away from something because you’re scared of what people are going to say!