TELLY news presenter Beccy Barr announced last week she was quitting her job to become a firefighter.
After 20 years as a journalist, she felt she needed a change. Beccy, 41, said: “I’m ready for a different challenge.
“I’ve always tried to help where I can. I grew up with a real sense of public service.”
The BBC North West Tonight host will be joining Lancashire Fire and Rescue – the same service her dad Roy was in for around 20 years.
Beccy is not the only one leaving one career behind to embark on another.
She is part of a new set of go-getting women – the mid-life job movers. Four of them tell NIKKI WATKINS their story.
‘Driving trucks is a dream come true’
SINGLE Jayne Valentine has swapped her £40,000-a-year career in finance to drive 44-tonne lorries.
The 53-year-old mum-of-two from Falkirk, Stirlingshire, says:
“I’ve always wanted to drive trucks, I’d loved them since I was a teenager but was told by my parents that I needed a sensible job.
“They told me to go into secretarial studies because that was the norm at the time.
“I’d worked my way up to an executive PA role to a director with 50 people in the team. My days were spent travelling around the world and in board meetings.
“Now I have two grown-up kids so I decided to retrain in something I was passionate about.
“My sister prompted me into really doing it instead of wishing.
“I lost her to cancer last year when she was only 56. She encouraged me to live my best life and I know she’d be in that passenger seat if she was still here.
“This job change means I’m going to be losing up to £15,000 annually as a newbie in HGV driving, but really it’s a dream come true. I’ve got the chance to do a job that’s really different.
“All my friends and family are super excited. They know I’ve got the attitude and confidence to do it.
“I’ve worked in offices for 35 years and I can’t wait to start in a new career.
“I decided to take voluntary redundancy from my finance job, and I’ll sit my HGV driving test in August.
“I’m confident that I’ll soon pick up work as a driver as soon as I’m qualified.
“It is a male-dominated industry, but that’s only made me more determined to break into it.
“I’ll be able to do long distance and I hope I’ll be able to drive something like a formula one 7 truck, which is my passion. I can’t wait.”
‘I earn more doing what I love’
TO make ends meet, Rachael Lynch combined her support work in social care with a part-time job as an underwriter in the finance industry.
The 38-year-old mum-of-two from Edinburgh decided to turn her passion for photography into a lucrative new career. Rachael, who is married to 45-year-old charity manager Thomas, says:
“I was working part time in financial services and part time in social care, but I found the varied shift patterns hard.
“I could be working evenings or weekends and they changed as and when I was needed by the company.
“It paid just about enough to live on and I wanted to do something I really loved.
“After I had my eldest son Lewis, ten, I struggled getting childcare or even finding a nursery that would take him without an 8am drop off, which left me no time to get to work.
“I loved doing photography in my spare time so my husband suggested I look to seek redundancy as there were a lot of funding cuts in the social care sector.
“I decided to invest the money I received in some training and photography equipment.
“I quit my underwriting role, too, and started to build a portfolio by taking pictures of my friend’s kids. I did it cheaply so I could invest in training.
“Now I make three times the amount of money I did previously – by photographing babies.
“I’m always booked a month in advance and even have my own studio.
“My job even works around part time childcare – so when I had my second child Ollie, two, things were much easier for us.
“My new career works incredibly well for my family as well as allowing me to finally have a job I truly feel passionate about.”
‘I needed to make a change for my family’
THROWING herself into her career as a child protection social worker meant Liz Popham, 41, spent long days away from her family.
After losing four stone, she decided it was time to get her life and work balance remedied by becoming a weight loss consultant. Liz, who is married to retail assistant Matt, 44, from Crewkerne, Somerset, says:
“Being a social worker was incredibly rewarding, but mentally and physically demanding.
“I’d worked hard to become one. After my three-year degree, I spent two years studying for my postgrad diploma and then did further training.
“But after 15 years in the profession I knew I needed to make a change for my family.
“I longed for a job that would allow me to spend more time with my six-year-old son Charlie.
“I had to leave for work before he was even out of bed in the morning and if I was lucky I made it home just before he fell asleep.
“Knowing I was missing out on so much, combined with the heavy workload, triggered depression and stress.
“In April 2017, I decided to lose weight with the 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight as I had crept to 15st 4lbs and a size 18.
“The pounds fell off and I was delighted. My weight loss consultant remarked that I’d make a great consultant myself.
“I started training to be one in October 2017 and reached my four-stone weight loss the day before my 40th birthday in November, slipping into a size ten dress.
“I was more passionate than ever about helping others feel as great as I did.
“Giving up my £30,000-a-year job was a huge step but I love being able to work around my son. It was worth adjusting to the £10,000 pay drop.
“Despite earning less, I have gained so much.
‘I felt unfulfilled…and I had lots more to give’
WHEN others may have been thinking about retirement, grandmother Jenny Howe, 60, from Ipswich, decided to quit her council job to become a full time foster carer. She says:
“I enjoyed my job working for the Suffolk County Council’s youth service, helping and supporting young people in the community.
“But then cutbacks meant some departments merged and I was no longer working with young people.
“I felt unfilled, but knew I still had more to give.
“So aged 55 I started thinking about a new career and becoming a full-time foster parent.
“With our own children grown up, my husband agreed that we would both enjoy the challenge.
“We felt passionately about offering foster care to sibling groups because our own children are so close and sadly siblings are often separated.
“Just three months after being approved as foster carers we were asked to look after two brothers aged six and eight.
“The brothers settled in quickly and, over time, we also started taking in more children and sibling groups for respite breaks a week at a time.
“Using my skills to help children directly was hugely rewarding.
“Working as a foster carer means I’m also able to look after my grandson while my daughter works.
“Giving up my £26,000-a-year job had been a big decision but I’ve never been happier.
“I have an income of £500 per week from fostering.
“I am also paid an allowance for the children but they cost far more than the allowance so the income I earn also helps pay towards giving them the opportunities that they should be able to enjoy.
“It is a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week job. But when you do something you love, it doesn’t feel like work at all.”