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Behind every successful plant man is an even more successful woman

Tue 11 Jun 2013

Behind every successful plant man is an even more successful woman

Richard started out as a farm boy, so by the time he left school, he was pretty proficient as a machine operator. That’s the way it was for many of us back in the days before all the current H&S mania kicked in. Richard also had a fair bit of knowledge on machinery repairs, with the old adage “make do and mend” being the order of the day. One evening, whilst having a pint in his local pub, Richard was offered a job working for Tarmac Roadstone, as a machine operator, which the young 18 year old grasped with both hands. Little did he know that, in Richard’s words “the job turned a boy into a man”. Richard was trained to operate and repair a wide variety of machines, but he ended up being a road paver operator, which at the time was the top job, and the best paid too. As the years went by, companies were cutting costs and laying direct labour off in favour of sub-contractors, so he left Tarmac and followed the work, until operating got less and less, and he ended up doing more and more fitting. Since those days, Richard has worked in the quarry and road construction industries, and some spells with JCB dealerships. Richard met Tina in 1991, and during their time together, she has put up with the long hours and everything else that goes with the plant game. Tina comes from a mining family background in Nottingham. Richard often ribs her because she is only 5ft tall and says jokingly, “That she were bred to go down pit”. Growing up in a mining community meant that Tina was used to the men of the house working long and anti-social hours. The women worked too of course, but also did everything else too, like run the house, manage the finances, raise the kids and all the other things that women do and most of us men take for granted! Richard recalls how Tina would often go with him to do a breakdown or a service, just so they would get to spend some time together. But of course Tina being Tina, she ended up mucking in by either operating a machine for Richard or even helping with the repairs! Sometimes though, the endless questions about how stuff worked or why could drive Richard insane, but he insists that she is awesome really. Tina is a very hands on sort of girl. If something needs doing, she will simply get on with it, because in her words, “it’s not going to do it by its self!”  One day Richard and Tina discussed that they needed a boot room/porch on the back of the house, because she was so sick of all the mess that Richard and his son, along with their gun dogs, trail into the kitchen.  So Richard said "you better get on with it then!”. Well that was like a red rag to a bull for Tina, she had plans drawn, researched what needed to be done and set about the task in hand. The next thing Richard knew, slabs were being lifted, footings marked out, a self-drive digger arrived to dig the footings, concrete poured and rallying all the troops and resources she could, whether it be friends or family, to get the job done. She also called in many favours from people they had come to know in the building and construction industry over the years, she even made a friend of the building inspector! So over time, it gradually made progress, stage by stage with Tina always being involved whether it was digging the foundations, laying the bricks and blocks, mixing the mortar or just barrowing, she was there! Tina sourced all the things required locally, but Tina being Tina and working in accounts, never accepted the first price asked for any materials and always bartered. She got all the small tools she needed from a local small company in the next village, I think she paid £35 for a week’s hire of the mini digger delivered! “She never ceases to amaze me!” said Richard. The whole job took about three years to complete, whilst life still carried on as normal. She just did a bit here and a bit there as and when time allowed. The mini digger she hired in was a well-used and rare CMC MX-08XT, which turned out to be an excellent little machine for the job, and Tina soon got to grips with controls, even though she is no expert.  

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