“In 2013 I decided to enter the chimney sweeping industry and paid to train as a sweep. After a couple of days training in a classroom I was given a certificate, sold some dodgy tools and wished the best of luck in my new career.
“I discovered after a couple of years trading as an incompetent chimney sweep that I needed more than luck – some proper training was required as I was unintentionally putting people’s lives at risk.
“In 2016 I decided to bite the bullet and invest money in some proper training. I researched my options and came to the conclusion that the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps was my best option as I wanted to do things right this time.
“From the moment I contacted the Guild I haven’t looked back. The training was very thorough, from the week in classroom with the excellent instructors through to practical on-site training with some excellent sweeps. All of them have been extremely helpful and if you don’t quite understand something they take the time to explain
“Since I joined the Guild my business has really taken off and I now feel properly qualified to deliver a very professional service. I’m still on a learning curve and when I encounter a problem on a job there’s always someone who can give me advice and reassurance which makes the job so much easier.
“I look forward to being part of the Guild in the future and taking my career forward with them.”
“And what do you do?”
“I’m a chimney sweep.”
“The reactions can be interesting, from amusement to sympathy. But what people don’t often realise is that chimney sweeping is probably one of the best jobs in the world!
“I have been sweeping for 7 years and have found it to be a very good way of life. Not only do we regularly enjoy the satisfaction of inspecting a flue that we just swept and see that it is looking spic and span, but much more besides.
“I get to travel throughout my region (stopping of for a bit of fly fishing – on the fly), meet interesting people, some of whom become friends and are given access to some very fancy homes and castles, where we usually wouldn’t be able to set foot over the door.
“What I like most about sweeping is the lifestyle. I have come to be at ease with the quiet period and enjoy a relaxed summer. The rest of the year is busy, but I can fill the diary to suit myself.
“The income is good – although it takes time to build up the business – and it will be more difficult in some areas than others.
“In the past year there have been two changes to my business. Firstly, Alasdair has come to work with me. He has a share in and runs a second branch of Fire Work. We have also begun more surveying work; I did the chimney survey course a few years ago, but only now feel confident to begin this type of work.
“A chimney sweeping business can be moulded to suit you. It does take a lot of time, cost and effort to build it up, but in my case, and for lots of other Guild members, the hard slog at the beginning has paid off.”
“I would tell anyone wishing to become a chimney sweep to enroll on this course. More than that, I would encourage any females thinking about taking this up as a career not to hesitate.
“The course was fantastic, with excellent facilities and trainers who have been in the business for years and really know their stuff. As the only female on the course I cannot fault the treatment I received. By that I mean that I was treated just the same as everyone else, which is what I wanted.
“I met some great people on the course who I am still in touch with, and the continued support I have received from the sweeps I spent my training days with has been touching.
“Going out on your own is daunting, and it is reassuring to know that there are experienced sweeps you can contact if you come up against something you are not sure about. They always make time to respond, even when I know they are up to their eyes in work.
“Fantastic course, fantastic people!”
“I have never enjoyed a course as much as I enjoyed the one that you designed and delivered last week. It was, quite simply, faultless.
“The training environment at Ripley was high quality and well equipped. The materials were well written, well researched, relevant and specific. It was apparent that a lot of intelligent and considered writing and editing had gone in to producing the excellent training manual. It could quite easily have veered toward the type of inaccessible and technical-loaded, jargon infested manual that one never looks at again. On the contrary, the Guild’s training manual will be a well referenced work book for me and, I suspect, for everyone who attended the course. I also anticipate that other organisations will be quick to utilise it.
“The trainers themselves however were the most impressive. You have amongst you a team of inspiring, understated experts, who delivered a perfect course. It was the blend of several things that made it, in my view, excellent; technical information in a no-nonsense, understandable form, good use of technology to impart the necessary information, great training aids to back up and, best of all, a passionate delivery by clear experts.
“There was enough practical, skills-based training to support the theory, and the right amount of time for delegates to network and build relationships.
“The trainers’ communication skills were great – I loved the blend of anecdotes with tips and real life experience, and felt you carried a tough schedule really well.”
“During my research I had come across some forum talk online which was very negative about the cost of the Guild’s training program. I guess it does seem like a lot of money to start with but, like most things, there is more to it than meets the eye and you get a lot more than just a few days in the class room. Once I understood what I was getting for the money, I was happy about committing to the scheme.
“Throughout my time at Sure Fire and on the work experience days, I heard the analogy of comparing sweeping with driving – once you have passed your test, then you start learning.”
“I found the course to be very knowledgeable. Being a Guild sweep has given me greater confidence when going to customer’s homes and this has enabled me to become a HETAS approved chimney sweep.”