AS modern as the present days are, it’s still a rare sight to see a woman dressed in a hard hat with a tool belt strapped to her waist whilst standing on a building site.
But Moortown woman Joanne McQuillan surpasses all boundaries set by society and has even scooped a prestigious Master of Builder Award along the way.
At just 36-years-old she has added a second award under her tool belt by picking up the prize for Most Heavenly Builder.
She impressed one her of clients, local businessman Alaistair Simpson, so much that he nominated her for the award.
Joanne, who fell pregnant at the start of the project, is never one to let something get in her way as the dedicated builder worked right up until the day before she gave birth to her baby daughter.
Astonishingly, just two days later she was back on the site again ready for another day’s hard graft.
The mother-of-two said she was shocked but very proud to win such an award.
“I never thought I would be nominated for the award, never mind win it as well. It is nice to be acknowledged and it feels good that someone has thought that well of our work that they would go as far as nominate us,” she said.
“I got a phone call a few weeks before the show to tell me I had won. I was just after having a baby a month before. I was pregnant during the whole project, I was even walking about the site in crutches for the last two months of the pregnancy.
“I worked up until the Thursday, then I went into hospital on the Friday then two days later was back in work again. I had no choice as we had so much to do.
“It’s great as we have won the award for New Homes which helps to boast our company’s recognition and a lot of repeat business has come from that.
“We have built up a reputable business and from that previous clients have given us more business.”
The accolade now propels Martin and Joanne to the National stage, when the winner will be announced next month at a glittery event held at the London Park Plaza.
Joanne told the MID that she is not sure where her passion for building stems from as no one from her family works in the trade.
At just 16, Joanne joined a class made up of just one other girl and the rest boys to study BTEC National Diploma in Dungannon College.
Joanne then went on to study a four year degree in Construction, Engineering and Management in the University of Ulster, Jordanstown.
Then in 2006, Joanne and Marty, her husband of 11 years who she has known since her days in primary school, set up McQuillan Building Contractors.
Although she has received great support from everyone with her choice of career, Joanne admits that she feels she has to do the job twice as hard, just to prove herself.
She added: “When I meet someone for the first time on the site, some males can be quite sceptical, but after half-an-hour they have a different attitude. The male female thing doesn’t exist, it’s just about the job.
“If anything the female perspective has its benefits as most of our business we have are from couples. The woman might like a particular style and I will know what type she wants and I also care about finishing touches and the cleanliness of how a property is left. Whereas men just leave it in any state.
“Girls wanting to go into this industry might get a bit scared but once you prove yourself capable of doing the job then things change.
“Walking onto the building site for the first time was so scary but if you know you’re good enough it won’t matter. You need the confidence and self belief.”
The Moortown woman, who has been working in the business for 20 years, is clearly up for any challenge and has the personality fit for it.
She says, like most working mothers, it can be hard juggling family and work life but that her two daughters, seven-year-old Cara and Eva who is five-months-old, will always come first.
The keen swimmer and her husband are currently building their own home, but due to a hectic schedule she describes it as a “working project”.
She continued: “I love my job. I love the vast different types of work and seeing in the end result. Giving someone’s home a face lift and seeing their faces when they see the transformation makes your life easier. It’s great to get the praise.”
The company have recently set up a new website where you find more information www.mcquillanbc.com
You can also contact Joanne on 028 8673 5851.