Meet our stars
Meet some of our teams that feature in the show:
Andy started out as an accountant at our HQ but while he was filmed you’d be more likely to find him inside a remote reservoir dam or getting his hands dirty at an inner city water works. Since becoming a business analyst, Andy spent his time planning huge clean water investment projects, often overseeing the use of innovative technology to keep the water flowing.
Andy loves his job and is a United Utilities employee “ambassador” – giving official tours of water and sewage works to groups of visiting school children. And outside work he’s one of the youngest chairs of school governors in the country. “I’m one of those people who likes to ask why and how. That’s what’s great about working here. When something you’ve been planning arrives on site I sometimes go and touch it. It feels good to knock on the side and feel the actual physical thing. It’s real and that’s what it’s all about.”
Andy was promoted to regional scheduling manager, responsible for field services engineers and process controllers on both the water and wastewater sides of our business. With a team of 20, he spends a lot of time travelling and needless to say, absolutely loves his new challenge.
Pint‐sized Prestonian Tessa Smith can usually be found liaising with residents and business owners at one of our major construction sites. She takes pride in being able to listen to customers and translate engineering‐speak into plain English. As a project coordinator, it’s Tessa’s job to smooth the way for the cranes and diggers working on big projects to clean up rivers and tackle flooding from sewers.
Tessa lives with her two Staffordshire bull terriers and when she isn’t tackling difficult projects, the fitness fanatic likes to tackle muddy assault courses and half marathons.
Describing her job, Tessa enthuses: “It’s always different – you get to meet so many different characters. Some days you get shouted at and that’s part of the job, but there’s nothing better than helping someone and getting a big ‘thank you’ afterwards. And after a bad day there’s nothing a glass of wine won’t put right!”
All's going well with Tessa's Manchester project and she's working on another that involves an awkward road closure in a village. Following her appearance on TV she's picked up a few mopre Twitter followers and been recognised when out and about!
John is a United Utilities legend. He’s completely potty about big pipes and could probably teach the Romans a thing or two about aqueducts. That’s fortunate because he looks after the company’s 1,000 km of large diameter trunk mains and moves squillions of gallons of drinking water around the North West.
John joined United Utilities as a technician in 1987 and within two years was managing the company’s northern aqueducts. “It’s still my dream job but these days much more of my time is spent above ground and in meetings. Fortunately I can still sneak out and hug the odd pipe from time to time,” he said.
Originally from Doncaster and now an adoptive Cumbrian, he shares a home with aqueduct views with his wife, two sons and Labrador. None have any interest in pipes.
John’s now working on plans for a pipeline project that’s twice as big as this years’ Haweswater aqueduct inspection. A bit of a celebrity at home in Kendal, he’s still managing to spend quality time with his pipes.
John wanted to be a rally driver when he was growing up and his dream came true when he got the chance to drive an airport baggage vehicle down the Haweswater aqueduct!
He’s been at United Utilities for 11 years, having previously worked in the oil and gas industries. He started as a process controller at a water treatment works, then after completing his degree became a construction manager and can now be seen managing anything from upgrading a pump to building a new treatment works or pipeline. His big priority every day is the safety of his team (and a bacon butty).
John lives in Southport with his wife and two children. A self-confessed engineering geek, he indulges his passion for classic cars - when he’s not providing a taxi service to the kids.
John's been plotting his next big project, working in Bury, Kendal and Scotland. Following his appearance in Watermen he's revelling in the banter about his sandwiches and his height!
Vic and Babs
Vicky and Babs aka the ‘A-team’ solve customer drainage problems in Merseyside and Cheshire. Babs started out eight years ago in United Utilities’ call centre and Vicky was in an office job but the pair love the great outdoors and facing new challenges every day. Babs said: “It’s much more rewarding being out and about, facing new challenges every day and seeing how pleased people are when you’ve helped resolve their sewer problems.” Vicky’s take on her role sums up the enthusiasm of the A-team: “I absolutely love the job. Every day is different.”
Vicky reports on the reaction from the show: "I've had people stopping me down the street, asking about the show, asking how I do my job. My reply is always because I LOVE IT! I got 150 text messages just while the show was on! Everyone was buzzing and my parents were so proud." Vicky's job has changed (she's a customer service technician now) but she often steps back in to "show the lads how it's done. I can't help myself!"
Colin has worked in engineering and construction for over 50 years and is as passionate as ever about what he does. He’s been overseeing the construction of a new 10km water pipeline for Blackburn which is part of a £6 million project to ensure people in the area have great water for years to come. Outside work, Colin has been happily married for 37 years, is granddad to baby Charlie and loves motor biking.
Colin still has his plate full with pipeline projects. He claims he's not been recognised since appearing on TV - unless he's prompted people, so doesn't think this will lead to a new career! He says his friends thought that his "appearance on the show was very good, but they would say that, wouldn't they!"
Being filmed was water off a duck’s back for project manager, Lorne. With a construction site the length of two football pitches and a team of 350 people, he really has his work cut out!
When complete in 2016, the £200 million extension to Liverpool Wastewater Treatment Works will look after over half a million Liverpudlians. In his spare time Lorne has no time to rest, spending time with his family including Vincent, a 70kg Bernese mountain dog!
Water quality officer Stuart is from Stockport and he can usually be found with his box of bottles and gizmos visiting water treatment works, reservoirs or knocking on customers’ doors to take a sample from their tap.
It’s a varied job which suits Stuart as he loves travelling and meeting people. “You need to be a people person to do this job. People are genuinely interested in what I’m doing so I love explaining it as I go along.”
Adrian and Wes
Adrian and Wes are the double act that makes up one of our crack sewer teams. As partners in grime they get to the bottom of the smells and blockages that can make customers’ lives a misery.
Always cool in a crisis, Blackburn lad Adrian joined United Utilities as a sewer technician two years ago and loves the job and the comradeship so much he can’t imagine ever leaving. Mancunian Wes usually takes the driving seat (he passed his class 2 driving test first time!) and loves that no two days are the same. He thinks it will be interesting for people to see the lengths they go to, to resolve issues for customers.
Caroline and Ian
Caroline, from Wigan, has worked for United Utilities for two years and her role as Commercial Debt Manager brings her face to face with many challenging situations. But trying to find ways to help any struggling business pay their water and wastewater charges is always the main goal for Caroline and her dedicated team. She hopes that people watching the programme will see that “we’re ordinary people doing extraordinary things for our customers every day of the year”. Caroline’s gran is her number one fan and she’s sure not to be disappointed! Ian lives in St Helens and forms the other half of the Scully/Mulder duo with Caroline. He hopes that people who work hard to pay their bills will see that he works hard to ensure that those who won’t pay their share! He’s also really excited about the programme because his young daughters can’t wait to see their dad on TV!
Caroline's quote: "We came, we saw, we concreted," has become a bit of a catchphrase! She's had lots of feedback that people are glad she's doing her job, especially chasing up bill dodgers. The only embarrassing moment was explaining a headline in her local paper to her gran: "Caroline talks dirty!"
Ian's daughters loved the show and shout "Look! Dad's United States van!" whenever they see a United Utilities vehicle! His family and friends are still repeating their favourite quotes back to him!
Chris and Mark
Chris and Mark look after pumping stations which send sewage around the wastewater network. They love the challenge of solving tricky problems before they become a problem to customers, often avoiding wastewater flooding on the street. Covering the Preston, Blackpool and Lancaster area they think people will be surprised at what goes on behind the scenes at United Utilities.
Chris calls his job the “silent service”, because customers often don’t see him at work, but he prevents problems from becoming major issues effecting people’s lives. A memorable day at work was when “A dyke was flowing into a pumping station and there was a risk a street could be flooded with sewer water. So I put a winch on and waded into a ditch full of freezing water to put a bung in the overflow to stop it getting to the pumping station. That’s the coldest water I’ve ever been in.”
Mark actually chose the wastewater side of the job over the clean and his take on the job is a typical understatement: “It gets a bit messy at times and it doesn’t appeal to everyone, but it doesn’t bother me.”
Andy and Terry
Another infamous double act unblocking sewers and drains for customers in the Blackpool, Preston, Nelson and Carnforth areas. Out in all weathers and taking on some seriously heavy duty work, which is where Terry’s jiu jitsu training comes in handy! For most of us, their job looks unbelievably difficult, but Andy and Terry tackle it in their usual cool, calm and collected way and always come away smiling.
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