Penny Poppins enjoys sweet soot of success

Echo: Penny Poppins enjoys sweet soot of success Penny Poppins enjoys sweet soot of success

THE hopes and dreams of a bank worker went up in smoke when she was suddenly made redundant.

But Penny Robins showed she has fire in her belly by setting out to become Southend’s first accredited female chimney sweep after Lloyds bank axed her just before Christmas.

The sweep, who trades under the name “Penny Poppins” in a nod to Disney classic Mary Poppins, which features chimney sweep Bert, wasted no time after learning she had lost her job. She dusted herself down and retrained as a “master sweeper”.

The 39-year-old from Fleetwood Avenue, Westcliff, said: “I had toyed with the idea for a while and then when redundancy came up I thought, why not look and see if there is a need for it or a niche for a lady to do it.

“It has been really good so far. I’m loving it.

“I’ve managed people in an office for 25 years, so it’s just nice to get out and meet people.

“But I went to one job and a little girl of about three was really upset because she was expecting the real Mary Poppins!”

Miss Robins, who was one of almost 900 staff who lost their jobs after Lloyds closed Essex House in Southchurch Road, realised the demand for chimney sweeps after waiting five weeks for one herself last autumn.

The former team leader from the lost and stolen cards department guessed work would increase as more people buy log burners and biomass boilers, but also thought the industry could do with a woman’s touch.

She said: “There is a huge market for women in trade positions, such as plumbers and electricians.

“Sometimes ladies prefer women to come in their home rather than men. They feel more secure.

“As far as I’m aware there are no other women doing it in this area, certainly not those accredited by the Guild of Master Sweepers – in fact there are only nine in the whole country.

“There are absolutely no reasons why women should have any problems doing this. If anything, women are a bit cleaner and tidier!”

Miss Robins underwent ten days of intensive training for the role, including on-the-job training with a master sweeper, and had to pass a series of exams.

Chimney sweeps still work in the traditional way, using rods and brushes, along with more modern equipment, including rotating brushes powered by drills.

Miss Robins had to do some training to improve the strength of her grip.

Comments (9)

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7:26am Wed 18 Jun 14

Happy Chickie says...

Well done.

However there is only one chimney sweep for me. Mr Sooty. He is the best and I have been using him for years.
Well done. However there is only one chimney sweep for me. Mr Sooty. He is the best and I have been using him for years. Happy Chickie
  • Score: -6

7:57am Wed 18 Jun 14

John Right says...

Superb marketing angle, of this essential line of work, with wood burning stoves and open fires being so popular, the need to have the flue/chimney professionally cleaned cannot be emphasized enough.
Having often read of chimney fires, due to soot build up,spreading to the roof, culminating in catastrophic results, the chimney once cleaned can be used safely
Superb marketing angle, of this essential line of work, with wood burning stoves and open fires being so popular, the need to have the flue/chimney professionally cleaned cannot be emphasized enough. Having often read of chimney fires, due to soot build up,spreading to the roof, culminating in catastrophic results, the chimney once cleaned can be used safely John Right
  • Score: 4

8:10am Wed 18 Jun 14

Nowthatsworthknowing says...

Happy Chickie wrote:
Well done.

However there is only one chimney sweep for me. Mr Sooty. He is the best and I have been using him for years.
Never found Sooty that great, very quick not cheap and quite condescending.
Be nice to have a lady, for a change to clean the chimneys, bright and fresh....
[quote][p][bold]Happy Chickie[/bold] wrote: Well done. However there is only one chimney sweep for me. Mr Sooty. He is the best and I have been using him for years.[/p][/quote]Never found Sooty that great, very quick not cheap and quite condescending. Be nice to have a lady, for a change to clean the chimneys, bright and fresh.... Nowthatsworthknowing
  • Score: 7

9:39am Wed 18 Jun 14

Nebs says...

Nowthatsworthknowing wrote:
Happy Chickie wrote:
Well done.

However there is only one chimney sweep for me. Mr Sooty. He is the best and I have been using him for years.
Never found Sooty that great, very quick not cheap and quite condescending.
Be nice to have a lady, for a change to clean the chimneys, bright and fresh....
I can recommend Peter from SweepOurSoot.co.uk in Leigh, use him every year and always takes his time and does a thorough job.
[quote][p][bold]Nowthatsworthknowing[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Happy Chickie[/bold] wrote: Well done. However there is only one chimney sweep for me. Mr Sooty. He is the best and I have been using him for years.[/p][/quote]Never found Sooty that great, very quick not cheap and quite condescending. Be nice to have a lady, for a change to clean the chimneys, bright and fresh....[/p][/quote]I can recommend Peter from SweepOurSoot.co.uk in Leigh, use him every year and always takes his time and does a thorough job. Nebs
  • Score: -2

10:11am Wed 18 Jun 14

Howard Cháse says...

Good luck with your new venture Penny.
Good luck with your new venture Penny. Howard Cháse
  • Score: 3

11:40am Wed 18 Jun 14

Happy Chickie says...

John Right wrote:
Superb marketing angle, of this essential line of work, with wood burning stoves and open fires being so popular, the need to have the flue/chimney professionally cleaned cannot be emphasized enough.
Having often read of chimney fires, due to soot build up,spreading to the roof, culminating in catastrophic results, the chimney once cleaned can be used safely
Additionally it is worth noting that you don't get your chimney/woodstove or fireplace cleaned every, your insurance is null and void in case of fire.
[quote][p][bold]John Right[/bold] wrote: Superb marketing angle, of this essential line of work, with wood burning stoves and open fires being so popular, the need to have the flue/chimney professionally cleaned cannot be emphasized enough. Having often read of chimney fires, due to soot build up,spreading to the roof, culminating in catastrophic results, the chimney once cleaned can be used safely[/p][/quote]Additionally it is worth noting that you don't get your chimney/woodstove or fireplace cleaned every, your insurance is null and void in case of fire. Happy Chickie
  • Score: 1

11:41am Wed 18 Jun 14

Happy Chickie says...

Nowthatsworthknowing wrote:
Happy Chickie wrote:
Well done.

However there is only one chimney sweep for me. Mr Sooty. He is the best and I have been using him for years.
Never found Sooty that great, very quick not cheap and quite condescending.
Be nice to have a lady, for a change to clean the chimneys, bright and fresh....
Really? He does a great job, top bloke and 50 quid for the woodstove to be cleaned is a bargain.
[quote][p][bold]Nowthatsworthknowing[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Happy Chickie[/bold] wrote: Well done. However there is only one chimney sweep for me. Mr Sooty. He is the best and I have been using him for years.[/p][/quote]Never found Sooty that great, very quick not cheap and quite condescending. Be nice to have a lady, for a change to clean the chimneys, bright and fresh....[/p][/quote]Really? He does a great job, top bloke and 50 quid for the woodstove to be cleaned is a bargain. Happy Chickie
  • Score: -2

11:54am Wed 18 Jun 14

Nowthatsworthknowing says...

Happy Chickie wrote:
John Right wrote:
Superb marketing angle, of this essential line of work, with wood burning stoves and open fires being so popular, the need to have the flue/chimney professionally cleaned cannot be emphasized enough.
Having often read of chimney fires, due to soot build up,spreading to the roof, culminating in catastrophic results, the chimney once cleaned can be used safely
Additionally it is worth noting that you don't get your chimney/woodstove or fireplace cleaned every, your insurance is null and void in case of fire.
Hey Chickie, heard the saying Blonds have all the fun, Brunettes the top jobs, whilst gingers are at the back of the class, dreaming of a fervent pass,so do you need a pair of glasses ??
[quote][p][bold]Happy Chickie[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]John Right[/bold] wrote: Superb marketing angle, of this essential line of work, with wood burning stoves and open fires being so popular, the need to have the flue/chimney professionally cleaned cannot be emphasized enough. Having often read of chimney fires, due to soot build up,spreading to the roof, culminating in catastrophic results, the chimney once cleaned can be used safely[/p][/quote]Additionally it is worth noting that you don't get your chimney/woodstove or fireplace cleaned every, your insurance is null and void in case of fire.[/p][/quote]Hey Chickie, heard the saying Blonds have all the fun, Brunettes the top jobs, whilst gingers are at the back of the class, dreaming of a fervent pass,so do you need a pair of glasses ?? Nowthatsworthknowing
  • Score: -2

2:30pm Wed 18 Jun 14

Happy Chickie says...

Nowthatsworthknowing wrote:
Happy Chickie wrote:
John Right wrote:
Superb marketing angle, of this essential line of work, with wood burning stoves and open fires being so popular, the need to have the flue/chimney professionally cleaned cannot be emphasized enough.
Having often read of chimney fires, due to soot build up,spreading to the roof, culminating in catastrophic results, the chimney once cleaned can be used safely
Additionally it is worth noting that you don't get your chimney/woodstove or fireplace cleaned every, your insurance is null and void in case of fire.
Hey Chickie, heard the saying Blonds have all the fun, Brunettes the top jobs, whilst gingers are at the back of the class, dreaming of a fervent pass,so do you need a pair of glasses ??
What a berk you are.
[quote][p][bold]Nowthatsworthknowing[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Happy Chickie[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]John Right[/bold] wrote: Superb marketing angle, of this essential line of work, with wood burning stoves and open fires being so popular, the need to have the flue/chimney professionally cleaned cannot be emphasized enough. Having often read of chimney fires, due to soot build up,spreading to the roof, culminating in catastrophic results, the chimney once cleaned can be used safely[/p][/quote]Additionally it is worth noting that you don't get your chimney/woodstove or fireplace cleaned every, your insurance is null and void in case of fire.[/p][/quote]Hey Chickie, heard the saying Blonds have all the fun, Brunettes the top jobs, whilst gingers are at the back of the class, dreaming of a fervent pass,so do you need a pair of glasses ??[/p][/quote]What a berk you are. Happy Chickie
  • Score: 4

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