While her friends were planning to go to university Lucianne Hinch was learning how to be an upholsterer. It might have seemed like an unusual choice of career for a 17-year-old girl but it’s a decision she has never regretted. Hilarie Stelfox meets a young woman working in a male-dominated craft.
WHEN Lucianne Hinch saw an advertisement for an apprenticeship in upholstering she admits that she didn’t even know what the word meant.
But that didn’t stop her from applying for the job and when she saw what was going on in the workshop where her interview was conducted she knew right then and there that it was what she wanted to do.
Lucianne, who lives in Netherton, said: “I did quite well at school up to GCSE but after my AS year I said I didn’t want to stay on at school. I’d had enough.
“I had always been pushed towards going to university so my mum wasn’t very happy and dragged me to the job centre where I happened to see this job as an apprentice upholsterer.”
The apprenticeship was with an Ossett upholsterer, Martin Randall, who had 40 years of experience in the business.
By the time she was 20 Lucianne had completed her level 2 NVQ in upholstery and had won three apprentice awards – including a highly commended in the annual awards made by the National Apprenticeships Service.
Lucianne, now 23, says she realised she’d made the right decision on her very first day at work.
“I spent the day cutting out fabric,’’ she said. “When they said it was time to go home I couldn’t believe I’d been there all day – it felt more like a couple of hours.”
But Lucianne, who now has her own workshop in Nortonthorpe Mills, Scissett, discovered early on that upholstering is not only an uncommon choice of trade, it’s also one that is male dominated.
Her friends were not so much surprised as puzzled by her job.
“They didn’t know what upholstery was,’’ she said. “When I told them what I was doing they said ‘what’s that?’
“I think it’s a generational thing. Most older people know what an upholsterer does, but younger people haven’t a clue.
“There seem to be a lot of older men in upholstery – people reaching retirement age – and I don’t know of any other women.”
Although Lucianne says she would have studied English and politics had she gone to university, she believes it would have been an expensive mistake.
“I think I would just have got into the partying and it would have been a waste of money,’’ she said. “I’d have come out with a lot of debt.’’