In the spirit of International Women's Day I've been thinking about my own story and how I got to where I am today.
Not many people know, that my love of steam locomotives was where it all began for me. I was 14 when my dad gave me my first camera and ignited a passion in me, not just for photography but for the subjects I began photographing too. I spent every weekend at The East Lancashire Railway documenting the steam locomotives and the unique characters I met. I loved it so much that eventually just photographing it wasn't enough for me and I went onto become a volunteer at the railway. For four years I worked almost every weekend, helping to preserve locos for future generations, whilst also joining footplate crews to train as a firewoman. I did all of this whilst studying press photography at Stradbroke in Sheffield. Eventually my career took off, seeing me working for many different newspapers and magazines across the UK. It was inevitable that for the next twenty years my love of steam had to take a back seat.
But steam has never been far from my mind - once it is in your blood, there it stays!! I now volunteer at the Bo'ness and Kinneil Preservation Railway. I'm also back to being a trainee firewoman on the footplate. I couldn't be happier to pick up where I left off - albeit with different locos and a new set of characters to show me the ropes, I feel like I am back where I belong: getting mucky and being a part of something special.
Photographers are never usually the ones in front of the camera, but for a recent Scotland on Sunday article I was well and truly in the flash/spot light. You can check out the recent article on ScotRail Alliance and their initiative to increase female apprentice levels to 50 per cent here. It just got me thinking about how things have moved on - back when I first volunteered a female fireman was almost unheard of - now most preserved lines boast not only firewomen but entire footplate crews.