Apprentice Leeds First Bus engineer selected to represent West Yorkshire in national competition

An apprentice engineer at First Bus in Leeds has been selected to be a part of a team representing West Yorkshire in a national road transport competition.

35-year-old Danielle Curtis (photo: First Bus)
35-year-old Danielle Curtis (photo: First Bus)

Danielle Curtis, 35, says she is finally enjoying her "dream job" 20 years after trying to enter the profession.

She is currently midway through a four-year apprenticeship in mechanical and electrical engineering at the bus operator’s depot in Bramley.

On June 24, she and her four male team mates will try to win the 10-year-old IRTE Skills challenge designed to highlight the skills of bus and coach engineers and technicians.

Danielle looks forward to show off her learning and capabilities the day after International Women in Engineering Day - which raises the profile of female engineers and careers.

She said: “I’m a bit nervous about what problems and tasks we’ll be faced with when we get the IRTE Skills Challenge, but my manager told me to just go and enjoy the experience.

“My grandad was one of those guys who was always getting into things, tinkering with stuff. I wanted to do what he did, so I’d help him."

When Danielle left school at aged 16 she applied for trainee jobs in engineering and manufacturing but didn't have any luck.

Before joining First Bus she had spent her working life in customer service roles including 10 years in a betting shop.

Danielle applied for the apprenticeship while at TransPennine Express where she was part of the ticketing team.

She added: "I decided, 'what have I got to lose?'

"I’ll admit I was in shock when I got the interview as I expected there would be too much of a challenge and competition from younger people.

“I’ve really landed on my feet. I knew a few of the team have been there a long time and have lots of experience, so wasn’t sure what they’d make of me, a woman in her 30s walking in as a trainee, but they’re really supportive.”

Danielle was among engineers at Bramley who carried out 1,000 separate items of additional work on buses at the height of the first lockdown to keep the fleet on the road for journeys of key workers and essential trips.

Danielle and her colleagues will be up against around 40 fleet transport teams from across the UK competing in the IRTE Skills Challenge.