By Hollie Bone
A stunning mum dubbed the UK’s sexiest plumber claims shocked customers ask ‘where’s the man?’ when she turns up for jobs.
Mum-of-one Carly Gayle, 30, from Crewe, Cheshire, has worked as a plumber since she was 15 years old – starting the unlikely career by helping out with her dad’s business at weekends.
But despite making £36,000 a year from her successful plumbing business, Carly claims she frequently battles sexism including facing doubts over whether she’s qualified for the job.
The blonde beauty, who was one of just two girls in a cohort of 200 lads at trade college, insisted her services are in high demand – especially from fellow women and older or vulnerable customers.
Carly said: “I once had a woman tell me ‘you look like a model – I can’t believe you’re a plumber’.
“When I was an apprentice 13 years ago, there were almost no women around in plumbing and I have had a lot of comments over the years.
“People have said ‘where’s the man?’ when I’ve turned up at jobs before, and I’ve also had people not believe I’m qualified or actually able to do the job.
“There’s been other times I’ve been in B&Q in my normal clothes with my handbag, looking at tools – knowing exactly what I’m looking for – and have had groups of lads come up to me and say ‘don’t hurt yourself darling’.
“I just flash them my Gas Safe register card, and they soon shut up.
“The comments used to get to me but they’re only served to make me really thick skinned, it’s definitely made me more feisty.”
Despite the long hours and intensive labour, Carly can thank her hands-on job for maintaining her toned physique, which paired with her gorgeous looks have prompted customers to tell her she could be a model.
And having proved her practical abilities, she admitted she still enjoys feeling pretty by getting her nails done, despite the difficulties it can cause on the job.
Carl said: “It’s a very dirty job, I come home with wood shavings in my bra and knickers, when you’re drilling through wood it gets absolutely everywhere.
“I love having my nails done like every other girl but I can’t have them on when I’m working because I can’t pick screws up or any other fiddly bits.
“So when I’m desperate to have them for a holiday or other occasion I have to duct tape them up.”
Regardless of rude remarks, nothing could deter Carly from the trade she loves – as it even introduced her to factory worker husband Danny, 31, the father to her three year old son, Marcus.
Carly said: “When we met Danny thought it was brilliant that I was training to become a plumber, he loved it.
“Of course he made the joke ‘I wouldn’t mind you coming to take a look at my pipes’.
“I used to do a lot of the practical jobs around the house but since we have been married he likes to do a lot more of that kind of stuff – so I taught him how do to it.
“Now his friends ring him up asking how to bleed a radiator, because they know I’ve shown him how.”
In the last ten years the girly go-getter has worked on building sites, in council houses and even helped to renovate hotels.
But despite her own dad, Andrew, 56, teaching Carly everything she needed to know to become a successful plumber, he initially didn’t want his daughter to make a living from the trade.
She said: “I used to work with him on weekends from the age of 15, just giving him a hand with stuff.
“He taught me how to solder pipes and all the other basics. He was always doing things and showing me how you did it.
“I wanted him to give me an apprenticeship but he wouldn’t. He didn’t really want me to go into the same industry as him because he knows it’s a hard life, it’s hard work, it’s a lot of responsibility and he knew I would get a lot of stick.”
Today, Carly says attitudes towards women in trade are getting much better, but it’s a long way from gender equality and she would like to see more encouragement for girls to consider a more manual career.
She said: “It used to be a lot worse than it is now but it’s still a long way off women being equal and there’s no platform for women to get into the construction industry.
“For me it was through my dad and that’s the same for a lot of women, they have just been lucky enough to have someone to support them with it, but there’s nothing really to encourage women to think that they can do anything like this.
“We have a lot of customers now that we have seen for years, they all know me really well and know how capable I am.
“A lot of my customers really like the fact I’m a woman too, especially other women and older people that are on their own.
“I’m so grateful that I got into a trade because I have so much knowledge and I have earned good money, probably more than most women my age.”