Saturday, May 18, 2024

DONAGHADEE WOMAN EMBARKS ON CAREER IN A MALE DOMINATED SECTOR

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IT’S a job normally associated with men, but a Donaghadee woman has shared the story of her journey into the world of car painting.

Rachel Murray, of Paint by Rach, is currently working as a freelance car sprayer, after getting into it by accident – after an accident. In early 2016, she crashed her father’s car three weeks after having passed her driving test. Taking it to Killaughey Road Commercial Repairs (KRCR), Rachel was enlightened to the world of car spraying. Taking the young woman under their wing, KRCR offered the keen teenager an apprenticeship. “I always wanted to work on cars,” said Rachel. “Originally, I wanted to be mechanic but I couldn’t get in anywhere.

The guys that fixed the car, KRCR, took me under their wing, and on the first day they had a spray gun in my hand. “That was the first time I ever knew you could paint cars, it sounds so stupid. I thought when you crash your car they just put new panels on it. It wasn’t until that moment that it was even a job option. “I completely got rid of my idea of being a mechanic, and enrolled in Riverpark Training in Mallusk, and started my apprenticeship with Charles Hurst. In 2018, I ended up going selfemployed, and that has been me since,” added Rachel. But it’s now just cars that Rachel paints, indeed her favourite job so far has been painting a 63.4 metre superyacht in Italy in October 2021. “I was painting superyachts in Italy in October last year, then I was painting cars two days later and then mountain bikes. It is literally just anything. I wouldn’t give up my career painting cars to paint super yachts, but it definitely was really cool doing it once. “The skills that you learn being a car painter you can transfer them into other industries. I have painted in most industries, bar aerospace and F1. You’re not stuck in one job the rest of your life,” she added. “It is different every day. It is always different finishes and different colours, or there’s maybe a different technique you need to use.” As a young woman in a male dominated field, Rachel described how she feels working as one of the very few women in such a field. “I don’t know that many girls who paint cars. It is male dominated but I haven’t really found that many issues on the workshop floor. I have never had anybody treat me any different, I am very lucky that way. “I do think, as a woman, you almost feel as though you have to do better than the boys to try and stand out. I feel, being a woman, you almost have a point to prove,” she added.

But just after Rachel went self employed in 2018 the world was hit by the pandemic and lockdowns. “During Covid, I lost all of my contracts for 13 weeks. I ended up working in the local care home who were crying out for workers,” she explained. However, Paint by Rach was able to bounce back from the lockdowns, although the cost of living and energy crisis has now had a significant financial impact on her industry. “It started to pick up, but now, because of the cost of living crisis, it has started to drop a bit with the car side of things. People aren’t really fixing their cars for cosmetic things.” “I think it is more the energy crisis, it’s the killer for body shops. Everything that we use is a really high usage of energy which is then putting our prices up so much,” she added. However, Rachel is determined to continue in her dream job, proving that women can not only fit in, but do well in male dominated sectors.

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