Barry, Level 4 Engineering HNC

Raising a family was the turning point for Barry Tomlinson.

The former industrial cleaner by day and DJ by night became an EDF employee almost by chance – and hasn’t looked back since.

Barry, 40, from Morecambe, initially joined the company on a three-month contract to ‘tide him over’.

He enjoyed the job and was offered a role as a full-time industrial cleaner dealing with active laundry – where items of clothing that have been in radiological areas are cleaned.

He said: “As part of the job, I had to do a monitoring course. Once I’d completed that, a job came up on health physics monitoring with EDF which I applied for and got.”

After working in this department for around nine years, Barry progressed to engineering.

He said: “I’d done that for a number of years, and I wanted more. I wanted to gain a recognised qualification over and above the in-house training to future proof myself and my career.

“As time progressed, all the roles I wanted to apply for at EDF required a HNC or equivalent qualifications. The opportunity to enrol on the Lancaster and Morecambe College Level 4 Engineering HNC came up and I went for it.”

Barry, who works at Heysham 2, said a position came up as an environmental safety engineer. He went for an interview, and was given a place on this course on the understanding that he completed the HNC.

“A lot of my time is spent studying at the minute because of my new role. There’s a number of courses that I have to go on,” he said.

“We have these things called CRSIs – Company Radiological Safety Instructions, and there’s 17 of them and I need to be able to answer and comply with them. A lot of my job is about compliance – such as how we comply with the ionising radiation regulations.”

Barry, who has also recently completed a Public Health England course on radiation and internal hazards, said he and the team are often checking, investigating and advising on any radiological contact events. They also issue radiological work permits which state that the area has been monitored and is safe to carry out maintenance.

He said: “This role is critical for safety. Our office is the last chain of people to speak to when you’ve got a problem or query. We also oversee any visitors to site to ensure they are kept safe and don’t go anywhere they shouldn’t.

“We also take care of the instruments and equipment, supporting the technicians who carry out the work, with the calibrations and make sure everything’s in service and working.”

Although he doesn’t need the CAD skills for his daily role, he said: “I’d never used CAD before. It was hard at first, but the teacher is great and everyone helped each other.

“Using the software we completed a project to design a trolley. We then had to put it under stress tests.

“I’m 40 now so it’s like coming back to school for me. Without this course, and this qualification, I wouldn’t have been able to progress to the job that I’m in now, and I would be very limited to where I could go in the company.

“The job is really diverse and once I complete my HNC it will open up a whole other level of potential specialisms.”