The women restoring Wentworth Woodhouse

The women helping restore Wentworth Woodhouse are showing girls the sky’s the limit.

By Kate Mason
Tuesday, 23 July, 2019, 13:11
Pupils and staff from Swinton and Wath Academies, St Bernard’s and Horizon Community College on the steps of Wentworth Woodhouse’s West Front with WWPT Facilities Manager Julie Readman (left) and Fore Consulting Transport Planner Sophie Dunhill

Wentworth Woodhouse, one of the greatest stately homes in the land, was built by men for a male dynasty but its future is in the hands of women.

Rotherham businesswoman Dame Julie Kenny CBE formed the trust that fought to buy it, Sarah McLeod is the CEO steering it forward and more female hands are shaping its restoration.

Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust recently invited local schoolgirls to meet some of the indispensable women in the construction sector who are using their talents and passion to make the magnificent Rotherham stately home great again.

Taking its lead from June’s International Women in Engineering Day 2019, the event aimed to open the girls’ eyes to career possibilities in the male-dominated sector.

The women explained how they found their way into their careers, answered questions on how it felt to work in a male-dominated industry and took students for a tour of the roof to see repair work and around the grounds.

Wath Academy pupil Emma Walters, aged 15, said:“I really enjoyed the event and learned a lot from it. I know now that construction isn't just about putting some bricks down and that choosing where to put a car park isn’t just about clearing trees. It takes a lot of people with a lot of skill.”

St Bernard’s pupil Libby Scholey, 14, of Herringthorpe said: “I learned there are lots of opportunities, whether you are a woman or a man. We are lucky. In the past, women didn’t have the opportunities we have now.”

Sarah McLeod, who admitted that as a schoolgirl she never dreamed she would be at the helm of a stately home, said: “Women who have made their mark in male-dominated careers need to give a helping hand to the next generation of career women.

“That’s what our Sky’s The Limit event was all about. We want to encourage girls to think about building their futures in construction and regeneration career choices which are still male-dominated but offer women really exciting and rewarding careers.”

Speakers at the event included WWPT facilities manager Julie Readman, Samantha Mikhail and Rachel Joshua, engineers at RDG Engineering who designed the state-of-the-art scaffolding shell now shrouding the building, Amy Stamford, the quantity surveyor with Woodhead Group who ensures repair work being carried out in Part 2 of the WWPT Capital Works Programme runs to budget,

After the success of the event WWPT will be planning another Sky's The Limit For Girls event in the new academic year.