WITHIN weeks of Hattie Hasan setting up her women plumbers’ business back in 1990, the phone was ringing off the hook with work flooding in (no pun intended.)
But recently she has swapped her wrench for another tool - her laptop, and as a result has indulged a long-held passion for writing.
The outcome is The Joy of Plumbing which is based on her 20 years’ experience in the male-dominated industry.
However, it is not a guide to fitting a new bathroom suite or unplugging a blocked sink. As its sub title suggests, it is a guide to “living the life you really want.”
“I wanted to write the book to encourage more young women into the trades, into the construction industry,” says Hattie, who lives in Todmorden.
“If the person who picks up this book happens to want to follow me into the plumbing industry then that’s fantastic, but if they don’t, well I still want them to read the book because it’s really aimed any anyone who has ever dared to have a dream and wants to find a way of fulfilling it.
“I want to show that there are real possibilities of living the life you really want to through starting your own business.”
The book is illustrated with stories from Hattie’s life as well as other inspiring stories, with attention-grabbing chapters such as Let’s Talk About Sex Baby and You have The Perfect Body.
She talks about equality, the myths relating to female plumbers and looks back at the history of women in the trades - including during wartime. Hattie’s own story begins in North East London where she was born to first generation Turkish Cypriot parents.
But rather than enter an arranged married, she studied psychology at London University and then earned a post graduate degree at Reading University.
She taught in several inner London schools until 1990 before moving to Calderdale where she retrained as a plumber.
Stopcocks came about because she realised she would have difficulty finding an apprenticeship.
“If I wanted to live, I knew I had to work for myself,” she says.
She reveals that she has always had a passion for finding out how things work.
“I used to do experiments at home - sometimes with electricity, as my dad was an electrician. Usually there was a loud bang as yet again I blew the fuses with yet another of my ‘brilliant’ ideas.
“I have always had a passion for passing on knowledge too, hence the teaching, and this is something I want to do through the book.”
She writes about how she believes plumbing has freed her life and done immeasurable things for her confidence.
”There is nothing more satisfying than to know you have made a difference to someone’s life. I have often come home to phone calls from people thanking me for installing their central heating systems or helping them out in a difficulty.
“Often people only call plumbers when there is a problem to be solved,” she laughs.
Hattie, who now is a regular inspirational and entrepreneurial speaker believes that women are highly suited to plumbing because they approach it in a different way.
“I think women are very respectful and sensitive when they go into someone’s home. They want to cause as little disruption as possible.”
However she is a great pains to point out that the book is not a man-bashing book.
“Not at all. We all know a good man when we see one and everyone will have had good as well as bad experiences with a male plumber. Male plumbers do have the worst reputation amongst tradesmen though.”
She says the book is for everyone who wants to take control of their life, whether they are just starting out in work or planning a career change - age does not matter. She also hopes it will create a legacy.
“My ancestry comes from a land where water is scare,” says Hattie who is an avid supporter of global women’s and water issues (in 2007 she raised £25,000 for empowerment work with women in India,)
Hattie reveals that she wrote the book because her passion in life is to see change in global water issues.
“Women have carried water on their backs for millennia to sustain their villages. As a woman I feel this, even from my own ancestry. As a plumber I can do something to change it.”
She also wants to help empower women both at home and abroad - she is now working closely with schools and colleges in her quest to encourage other young women to follow in her footsteps.
She is now in the process of setting up a Stopcocks seal of approval where female plumbers country-wide - and women in other trades - will be linked via a database.
“My aim is to have a woman plumber in every major town and city in the UK by the year 2015. When I started there were just a handful, now there are around 1,000 and the numbers are growing thankfully. And I’d also like to think that The Joy of Plumbing will be in every school and university library in the UK too.
“If I don’t try and achieve my goals then I’ll have missed the greatest opportunity to create the changes I want to see,” she says.
Hattie will be launching her book this Thursday at School House, Mytholm Bank, Hebden Bridge, from 6pm to 8pm. The book is also available at Fred Wade, Halifax and The Book Case, Hebden Bridge.
Anyone wanting further details, or schools and colleges interested in hearing Hattie speak can visit her website www.joyofplumbing.co.uk