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Former RAF mechanic embarks on a new career as an apprentice

A former RAF mechanic has secured his dream job as an apprentice for the largest South West housing provider, LiveWest.

Tristan Bolitho, from Liskeard, was an Airfield Support Mechanical Transport, in the RAF for four-and-a-half years, based in Aldershot with his wife Kelly, who was also in the military. He joined when he was 26 but left to have more of a work-life balance after the arrival of his daughter, Sofia, who is now six years old. After working in a variety of areas including building firms and moving onto working for BT for five years, Tristan decided to apply for LiveWest two years ago as a gas engineer but despite getting to the final rounds, he was unsuccessful. He didn’t give up and decided to try again. This time he got the position and is encouraging others it’s not too late to do a career change.
Tristan said: “When I got the position, I was chuffed, but I was also in shock, and I couldn’t believe it when she told me. “BT weren’t really progressing me so there was nowhere to go. When I saw the apprenticeship for LiveWest, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I’ve known since I was 19 but I’ve never really had the chance and because of my age as well, I thought I may be past it. “When I saw it come up, I thought ‘well I’m going to try’ and I got it.”

Tristan, 35, says he was hesitant to apply for an apprentice due to being slightly older than most people and the apprentice wage not being as good at some companies as his other jobs. He said: “You don’t really hear of 35-year-old apprentices. For me, I have a mortgage, so the financial aspects were a big thing, so I had to carefully think about that. “As an apprentice, LiveWest gives you a really good wage. I’ve never heard an apprentice getting what we’re getting so that made it a lot easier.”
He would like to progress further and specialise but is really looking forward to the studying at South Devon College one day a month. He is finding working alongside his mentor Steve, who demonstrates the skill and let’s Tristan get stuck into the work really useful and beneficial to the role. Tristan added: “It’s the fact that LiveWest give you more opportunities and they train you in different areas. So that for me, is awesome and every day is like a school day because I get to learn new things. “With previous jobs, it’s been working in a team but not very customer focused but I like that. Obviously, you are going to get one or two who aren’t happy but that’s a challenge in itself and if they aren’t, I will try to help with that.”

Tristan’s wife, Kelly, is very proud of him and they moved to be nearer her family after leaving the military. Tristan is enjoying all aspects of the job and believes it is a great skill to have as he is a very hands-on practical person. He is hoping to teach his daughter Sofia some invaluable life skills from his work. He said: “For me long term, it’s to learn as much as possible and hopefully specialise. What’s that saying, ‘a jack of all trades but a master of none’, but I would like to be a master of something. “It’s doing something that I actually want to be doing, I like helping people and this gives me the chance to do that.” “I do things in my own home and when I finish it, I get a real sense of achievement like “Yes, I’ve done it and nailed it’ so if I can do that for other people as well, that’s brilliant.”