Great Moulton girl Billie-Jo’s flying start to working life

Standing on top of one of Norwich's highest buildings, teenager Billie Jo Mills enjoyed a view of the medieval city few get to experience on their first day at work as she gazed at the historic cathedral and Norwich City's Carrow Road football ground.

For the fearless 18-year-old, from Great Moulton, was about to scale new heights by becoming possibly the youngest woman in the world to start work as an Industrial Rope Access Technician, a profession until now dominated by men, which involves abseiling down high rise buildings to carry out cleaning and maintenance work.

The former Long Stratton High School pupil was a quick learner, having passed her International Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) level 1 assessment on the day of her 18th birthday, September 23.

She has not looked back- or down- since and got off to a flying start on Monday with her first job cleaning windows on a seven storey high block of flats opposite Delia's Restaurant at the Carrow Road ground.

As part of a three-strong team from Norwich-based Sky High Rope Access, she helped clean 200 windows on the outside of the building and will soon move on to do windows in the lift shaft.


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But her only fear was whether the windows were clean enough.

She said: 'I was a little bit worried – not about the drop, but whether I was doing the cleaning properly.

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'I had been learning it and practising at home to make sure I got it right.'

She added her male colleagues had been really supportive of her, although she did have to put up with a bit of teasing over her fear of spiders!

'I don't like them much and they have been taking the mickey a bit, saying I will see some in the nooks and crannies on the way down.'

Some of the flats' residents have also stopped to chat.

'We had one lady in the penthouse suite who said 'I wish I had a seat where you are,' as we stood on top of the building.

'I could see so much on the roof, including the cathedral,' Billie-Jo added.

Once she has finished at Carrow Road, she is set for an even bigger challenge – the Millennium Tower at Salford Quays, in Manchester, which stands 67m high and boasts 21 floors.

She added: 'It will be bigger, but the scenery will be good. Because you are higher up you get to see so much more and Manchester has many tall skyscrapers.'

Although the windy weather was not ideal, Billie-Jo said she had learned how to cope with it during her training and by yesterday the stronger gusts had eased off.

dominic.bareham2@archant.co.uk

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