Former FA Cup star highlights housebuilding opportunities as she educates ambitious sons
- 14 Apr 21
A site manager for a national housebuilder in East Hanney has called for more education around the different roles in housebuilding to attract more women into the industry. Rachel Colin, who works at Bovis Homes’ The Silk Mill location, is urging schools to teach youngsters about housebuilding – and instils in her two sons, George, 13 and Ewan, 8, that there are senior management roles enjoyed by many women and men in construction. The former footballer, who played in the FA Cup for Stoke City Ladies FC as a young teenager, says she would like to see more women in senior positions and that lockdown had shone a light on the importance of flexible working. As her husband is a key worker, Ewan attended school during the second lockdown and that meant she had to change her work hours to drop and pick him up. While she was furloughed, during the first lockdown, she taught her sons from home and encouraged both to think about their futures – George aims to be a technical engineer while Ewan is keen on football or being a social media influencer! Mum-of-two Rachel, who lives in a Bovis Homes property in Wantage, said: “The housebuilding industry has got better but we need to be encouraging both women and men into the sector. We could do more to educate youngsters about all the different roles there are in housebuilding. I make sure George and Ewan both know women can take any of the top jobs in any industry, the same as men, and want them to respect everyone for what they can do rather than their gender. “There are no barriers for women on site, it’s about giving women the knowledge of what housebuilding jobs involve and seeing other women working in the industry. It’s such a great feeling to hand homes over to happy customers and that’s what my job is all about – you don’t have to be male to enjoy this role, it’s about having satisfaction and pride in your work and managing the different trades. There are so many women out there who would be great in the sector. “Vistry has been brilliant with flexible working, especially when I’ve had to pick up my son from school. The company has been very supportive and made an effort to really look out for its staff during such difficult times for everyone. Across the industry, I think there is more understanding now of the pressure parents can be under, since many businesses have had to suddenly become much more flexible in how they manage their staff. I’ve had time to chat with my boys about what they might want to do in the future. George wants to be a technical engineer and go into renewable technologies, and Ewan, like many boys, wants to be a footballer or YouTuber! They’ve both been on Vistry sites and they love seeing the different stages of housebuilding, and asking lots of questions.” On leaving school, Rachel took a year out in industry, working for a metal framing company. She later read a four-year architectural engineering degree at Loughborough University, with another year in industry. She has worked in many construction-based roles since leaving university after being inspired by her dad who worked on property projects when she was growing up. Rachel joined Bovis Homes in 2018 after she purchased a property from the housebuilder, with her husband Ian – a firearms police officer. She was inspired by her new-build experience and applied for a job and, after working her way up, is now responsible for the nearly-completed The Silk Mill location of 46 homes. “I knew I was good at maths and physics at school and I liked construction,” Rachel added. “I had experience of building work growing up with my parents and then got chances in the industry prior to, during and then after my degree. My dad sparked my interest and I wasn’t sure where in engineering and construction I would sit, and so my year in industry before university was great. I went to a metal framing company and I saw quantity surveyors, designers, office managers and drawing assistants. There were so many people with different areas of expertise working behind the scenes – there was so much more going on than I realised and it really opened up my eyes to all the different roles. It was much more than walking around site with muddy boots. But I do actually prefer being site based to working in an office. There are so many opportunities and different routes for people. University isn’t always the best way, and many should consider apprenticeships or experience-based paths. “I just love working for Vistry. My husband laughs at me all the time because he thinks I can’t possibly enjoy my work so much, but I do and I think it’s really important to do something you are truly passionate about. The best thing about the job is seeing things grow and develop – houses progress and become more like a home every week. You’re managing different stages on different plots each week, from groundworks through to painting, and just being part of that progression is what’s so interesting. Also, the challenges and the problem-solving on a day-to-day basis. “Home hunters are attracted to The Silk Mill because of its village location. The development is surrounded with fields, with a farm shop in front of it selling local produce. The properties here are bespoke, built with stone, brick and timber cladding – it’s a beautiful development and a lovely size with plenty of space. Wantage is just a few minutes’ drive away too.” Rachel won player of the match in a FA Cup match against Aston Villa, aged 15. She stopped playing when she went to university, but said those team player skills have helped her progress in her career, including motivating and managing the trades teams on site.