I quit my posh office job to become a lorry driver – I get MORE cash… and it’s fewer hours too | The Sun

A MUM-of-four has revealed how she quit her office job to become a lorry driver – and says she now gets more cash and more time with her kids.

Julie Kirkham, 46, from Oldham, had been working as a medical secretary but was finding it hard to juggle raising a family at the same time.

It wasn’t until she heard on the radio about opportunities for women lorry drivers that she decided to hand in her notice and switch up her life.

Speaking to Fabulous, she said: “Being a mother of four school age children, the whole 9-5 just wasn’t suitable for me and my lifestyle. 

“My youngest child had, and still has, a lifelong medical condition, which meant I was spending an awful lot of time at the local children’s hospital during the day. 

“Working life was bordering on hectic and near impossible to manage.”

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One day, when she was driving to a work conference, the busy mum tuned into her local radio station, and the segment changed her life.

Julie added: “I landed upon the dulcet Burnley tones of a lady called Rachael Scanlin, who was being interviewed on the motorway services, driving a pink lorry, in high heels.

“Rachael was chatting about the benefits of shift working, pay, terms and conditions within the industry and about how it could suit people, just like me.”

At the time, less than one per cent of HGV (heavy goods vehicles) were driven by females.

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Not put off by this statistic, Julie – who was 31 at the time – decided to take the plunge.

She continued: “That same day I rang Rachael and signed for the scheme. 

“A few weeks later, I had passed my test and began my first ever shift as a lorry driver.

“I was able to pick and choose when I worked, which was great on school holidays. 

“I was also earning more money than my previous job, and quickly realised that working weekends was more lucrative than weekdays.”

Julie admitted she had a mixed reaction when she first told people about her new career choice, but added that it’s “not so unusual any more”.

She said: “I was often met with incredulous stares, complimentary and not-so-complimentary comments.”

Julie said she quickly fell into the routine of putting her kids to bed and then going to work.

She’d then arrive home, dress her kids, feed them, take them to school and then she’d sleep during the day.

Julie added: “Currently I am contracted to 36 hours over four days per week (Monday to Thursday).

“As a medical secretary I worked 9 til 5, Monday to Friday.”

Her routes are mainly in the Greater Manchester and Lancashire areas, but sometimes she goes further afield.

Julie said there is a “popular misconception” that you have to stay away from home in the lorry as a driver – but that is not always the case.

She explained: “The only time I ever slept in my lorry was in the event of a vehicle breakdown, whilst having a cat nap or if I found myself snowed in somewhere.

“Many lorry driving jobs see the driver back home in their own bed every day.

“Incidentally, it is most comfortable, extra-large bunks, inbuilt fridges, microwaves and in some cases filter coffee machines.”

Another question she often gets is how she finds working in a heavily male dominated environment.

She said: “I have often been asked if I feel comfortable or scared working alone with men or instructing men one to one in a truck.

“I can honestly say I’ve never felt unsafe.

“I have only ever been scared driving the truck once, in gale force winds – the wind was forcing me across two lanes of the motorway towards the hard shoulder – the other side of that hard shoulder was a drop from the side of a very high bridge.”

The job does come with a number of perks, according to the mum-of-four.

Julie said: “The rewards are great, some companies even offer onsite gym and canteen facilities for example. 

“There are varieties of shifts to suit individuals.

“It is the outdoors, the all weathers, the ever changing scenery and the transient nature of each day that makes it such a positive for me.

“It would also surprise people to know how easy the trucks are to drive, how comfortable and modern they are and just how absolutely enjoying and relaxing it can be.”

Julie also has the support of her kids – now aged 27, 26, 24 and 22 – and partner Paul, 56, who she has been with for the past 14 years and who also works as an HGV driver.

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She said: “He’s always been massively supportive of my role, encouraging me and sharing information and knowledge with me.”

Julie is now an ambassador for Generation Logistics, and helps recruit new people to the industry.

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