Former Runshaw College students hope to inspire more women to follow them into engineering

Posted on - 1st July, 2024 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - People, Preston News, Proud Preston
Freya Matthews and Jess Turner. Pic: Cadent

Two former students at a college in South Ribble who landed spots on an engineering training programme want to inspire more females to follow in their footsteps.

Four years on from studying Engineering at Runshaw College, Jess Turner and Freya Matthews managed to secure two of only 14 places on the Engineering Training Programme of gas network Cadent.

Both keen to inspire more women to consider engineering as a career option, they often go back to Runshaw College to talk to students about it.

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Freya said: “Young girls probably convince themselves that they will not get a fair opportunity and choose a safer option. But I can honestly say that I have been supported every step of the way and it’s clear that things are changing.”

Jess, 22, from Preston, works as an Engineering Assistant in Cadent’s North West Investment Planning Office, helping to deliver a multi-billion-pound upgrade of the gas network, ready for the introduction of greener gases.

Freya, also 22, from Burscough, is a Pipeline Engineer. She is part of a team which inspects, maintains and upgrades the high pressure gas pipelines.

Jess said: “When I was at high school, in Year 8, I went to on an engineering weekend at Manchester University. I knew then that I wanted to be an engineer. For me, it’s the problem-solving and planning of the project, that’s what I enjoy.”

Freya added: “I’ve always been a hands-on person, doing DIY and fixing up cars with my dad. So engineering was something that’s interested me for a long time.”

“The fact that there are women in top positions in engineering speaks volumes. Our director of engineering at Cadent is a woman and it really inspires you to think that there is no limit to what you can achieve as an engineer.” 

Hilary Buxton, Director of Engineering at Cadent, said: “More than 30 of the 100 engineers in my immediate team are women, and we have seen a 30 per cent increase in female applications to our future engineering programme. We are making great progress where the environment we have created enables women to thrive.”

Cadent maintains and upgrades more than 21,000 miles of gas distribution pipes, providing a 24/7 gas emergency service. Their future talent programme offers tailored training programmes and apprenticeships to those wanting to start a career in engineering. For more information, visit

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