Plumbing Ambassadors Appointed on World Plumbing Day to Inspire Future Trades
Submitted by: Master Plumbers’ Association of Queensland (MPAQ)
On March 11, Master Plumbers’ Association of Queensland (MPAQ) revealed the 2021 Queensland Plumbing Ambassadors: Sam Raper – Paul Gray Plumbing Services, Toni Hillman – New Build Plumbing, Simon Townson – Tri Plumbing Services, and Sonya Hughes – Hughes Plumbing Contractors. The announcement was made in front of more than 300 attendees at the World Plumbing Day Industry Breakfast, which was held at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Pictured (left to right): The Hon. Michael de Brenni MP – Minister for Public Works and Procurement, Sam Raper – Paul Gray Plumbing Services, Toni Hillman – New Build Plumbing, Simon Townson – Tri Plumbing Services, Sonya Hughes – Hughes Plumbing Contractors, Kent Vickers – MPAQ President, and Penny Cornah – MPAQ Executive Director.
World Plumbing Day is celebrated March 11 every year, everywhere, and is now a fixture on the calendars of political and social institutions around the globe. World Plumbing Day aims to spread awareness of the importance of plumbing and plumbers in protecting public health as well as celebrating all the important work plumbers have done to improve the world.
The plumbing community has a vital role in promoting the link between good quality plumbing, health, environmental sustainability, and economic prosperity.
MPAQ Executive Director Penny Cornah said, “This is an important opportunity for the whole community to appreciate the hard work performed by members of our industry.”
“Queensland plumbers are experts in their field, who deliver the highest standards in health and safety throughout the world”, Cornah said. “While we should celebrate the industry and those who play an important part in it, World Plumbing Day also allows us to reflect on the future of our industry, and ensuring that we see a diverse, engaged and skilled future workforce is essential to that.”
The ambassadors were chosen to represent MPAQ and promote this important trade to school students and career-seekers across the state, focusing on raising awareness to students about studying an apprenticeship and explaining where a trade can take them both professionally and personally. This year, there will also be a focus on engaging with business owners to grow the number of opportunities available to those seeking a plumbing apprenticeship.
“I would like to congratulate this year’s ambassadors and thank them for giving up their time to help us develop the future of our industry. I look forward to working with them,” Cornah said.
About the Ambassadors
Toni Hillman, a licensed plumber and drainer of New Build Plumbing based in Morningside, has been a part of the plumbing and gas industry for more than 13 years.
Hillman said, “I need to show my face more and feel confident enough to step up to promote the industry and encourage others to follow in my footsteps.”
Hillman started out as a school-based apprentice and continued to complete her apprenticeship mainly in the domestic area. She has attended a few different events where she has been a guest speaker and has been an advocate for the industry — for not only women, but men as well.
“I want to participate more in events to promote the industry that I love,” she said.
Sonya Hughes is the office manager for Hughes Plumbing Contractors and has been involved in the plumbing industry for about 10 years.
Hughes said, “I am passionate about our industry and how important it is to promote this highly skilled trade as a career for future generations.”
Prior to her appointment as a plumbing ambassador, Hughes held meetings with local schools to promote the trade, with a focus on promoting increasing diversity in the industry.
“I think that plumbing has a stigma among young people as a dirty job that is suitable only for males; however, I would like to share the variety of plumbing career opportunities available,” she said.
“Regardless of gender or physical strength, plumbing can be a very successful career choice for all.”
Sam Raper is a fourth-year apprentice in his third year with Paul Gray Plumbing Services.
He said, “Even though I have only been in the industry for a short period of time, it has given me so much, and I am hoping I can return this back to others who wish to pursue a career in this industry.”
Finding his passion after 33 years, having gone through two companies to find an employer who is supportive, Raper is undergoing night school to complete his Cert 4 and has been awarded the 2020 TAFE Plumbing Apprentice of the Year and 2020 TAFE Outstanding Apprentice of the Year.
“Being an ambassador will help grow my knowledge of the industry and could also open up some doors for me in the future.”
Simon Townson is a licensed plumber, drainer, and gasfitter and the managing director at Tri Plumbing Services. He has been in the industry for 18 years and is a big advocate for apprentices and reskilling. He also believes that there is a struggle for education around employers taking on apprentices.
Townson’s ambassadorship role will be slightly different to that of Hillman, Hughes and Raper, with an employer focus where he will be able to connect with businesses and promote the importance of taking on apprentices and all the advantages this can bring to a company.