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My Life in Paint ? Richard Westwood, Property Transformation, Olton

Why did you choose a career in painting and decorating?

It was all down to a neighbour and family friend known as Uncle Pete. He was an experienced professional painter and decorator who had previously worked with my grandfather, a cabinet maker.

I had helped Peter on and off for years with odd decorating jobs and he was a great teacher, so I learnt a lot from shadowing him and really enjoyed the work.

When I left school in 1985, Peter took me under his wing full time and taught me the trade.

How long have you been in the business?

I have run my own business as a sole trader for 25 years.

What project would you say was your most memorable?

The project I am most proud of was my full exterior and interior redecoration of the newly restored Swithland Sidings Signal Box, which is part of the historic Great Central Railway in Leicestershire.

I worked on the exterior alone, battling against the elements to ensure an excellent result, and painted the interior together with a team of volunteers. The whole building, inside and out, required five coats of paint.

It lasted from 2011 to 2012 with some time off to return home and keep my business running. It was a challenging project to tackle but looked fantastic once it was finished.

What is the best thing about your job?

The best things about my job are the sense of pride you get from a job done well and keeping the customer happy.

Some of my customers have been with me for 20 years and I consider that a real achievement. Word of mouth recommendations to their family and friends also mean a lot to me.

What is the worst thing about your job?

The Great British weather! Having painted exteriors for 30 years, it's still frustrating when it rains on newly glossed surfaces.

And what are your top tips for someone just starting in the industry?

Listen, learn and understand. You can pick up so many tips from those who have been doing the job for a long time.

There are plenty of new techniques and ideas out there but sometimes the old ways of doing things are the best and you only learn this knowledge from time-served, trustworthy tradesmen.

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