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Inspiring the next generation of sewage engineers

Friday 21st February 2020 12:00

Thames Water engineer sitting in van with Alex

An aspiring five-year-old sewage engineer was surprised by a Thames Water house call after missing out on his school visit.

Not many primary school pupils say they want to work in the sewers when they grow up, but Alex Jedrzejczyk, couldn’t wait to tell his classmates why he wanted to fix pipes and “work underground”.

Thames Water visited his foundation class at Downsway Primary School in Tilehurst, Reading, after Alex revealed his dream job during a class careers project.

Unfortunately, Alex was ill the day Thames Water network engineer, Steve Lambert, visited his school.

To make sure Alex didn’t miss out on learning more about the company’s 68,000 mile network, Thames Water employees went the extra mile and organised a special visit to his house the following week (21 February).

The thrilled five-year-old met Steve and toured his Thames Water van. Alex tested out the hard hats and learnt about the safety gear worn by the company’s engineers while out in the field. He was then shown the equipment engineers use every day to investigate leaks and fix sewer pipes across the Thames Valley area.

Instead of wanting to be a doctor or a vet, Alex’s future career plans were inspired by his grandma, Sarah Jedrzejczyk, who works in the finance department in central Reading. She had shared with Alex how Thames Water provides essential water and waste services.

Alex said: “I want to be a sewer engineer when I grow up. I really enjoyed meeting Steve.”

Sarah added: “Alex loved it and hasn’t stopped talking about it.”

Steve Lambert, network engineer, said: “It’s important we help kids learn where their water comes from, how we keep the sewers running and how we help protect the local environment. This was a great opportunity to share what we do at Thames.”

During the company’s visit to Downsway Primary School in February, about 30 youngsters found out how Thames Water provides clean water and removes waste from their home. They also learnt about the different roles at the company – from the men and women who work outside in all weathers to fix leaks, to the scientists that test water quality.

Danni Rackley, foundation teacher, said: “The children enjoyed finding out all about Thames Water and the different job roles. We have spent the half-term learning about lots of careers and now the children have another one to think about. They loved seeing the equipment and talking about poo with Steve.”

This year Thames Water hit an educational milestone. Over the last five years, 100,000 schoolchildren have been given a fascinating insight into how the company deals with water and waste for millions of customers. Its pioneering education programme operates from seven specialist centres based at Thames Water sites and through visits to schools by speakers.