Ten minutes with Clare Thompson - Shirtmaker
Many of you may be familiar with Di Bainbridge, Co-Manager of our Andover workrooms alongside Gwenda Witts, but many will be unfamiliar with Clare and some of our other team members. Clare is Di’s daughter and has grown up with Budd playing a big role in her life since she was born. It was a natural progression for her to join the “family business.” Like her mother, she is a veritable dynamo, with boundless energy and motivation, and a wry sense of humour too. Currently on furlough, Clare has been volunteering in the workroom alongside her colleagues, in an effort to produce masks and scrubs for the NHS, care homes and local area.
How long have you worked for Budd?
Having grown up with your mum working for Budd, what are your first memories of the company?
My earliest memories of Budd (it was Webster Brothers back then) are going into the workrooms with my mum, Di during school half terms and sitting and watching them all work. All of the ladies were lovely. I would draw pictures and give them to them. This has become a bit of a tradition. If I ever need to bring my daughter in for a few hours, she does the same thing. You can see the next generation’s drawings posted all around the workrooms. Budd has always been a family friendly business and has allowed staff with children to build their hours alongside their home life. I’ve always been appreciative of that. My first ever job was cleaning the factory after school.
Where did you work before or have you always been at Budd?
My previous job was at a nursery school. Like Budd, it was creative but with the added bonus of lots of glitter and PVA glue! Hard to resist.
Who trained you? Did you learn from your mum or from Gwen?
I was trained by both my Mum (Di) and Gwen. They both use different techniques when making a shirt. This comes with their many years of experience and adapting to the methodology that best suits them.
Funniest thing about working for Budd?
Every day at the workrooms involves a lot of laughter! It can be set off by any number of things; Helen singing along to the radio (she will never make it on Britain's Got Talent). We have some smooth moves when it comes to dancing along too. We have been known to throw some shapes up and down the factory floor, we all know each other so well that it makes us very comfortable. Our general day to day conversations often have us crying tears of laughter!
What do you enjoy most?
The thing I enjoy most is the friends I've made and the camaraderie. Whilst at work, if anybody is struggling with any aspect of their task, there is always somebody to help. Even when work has finished for the day, we all know we can call one another if needed.
What is your favourite of all our shirts?
I love a good linen shirt, from start to finish on the production line they are a pleasure to make.
What traits, good or bad have you picked up from your mum?
I would like to say my mother has made me the woman I am today. Throughout my life, my mum has always shown me how to love, care and support others. I have tried to instill the values that she taught me in my children. They love her to bits (I genuinely believe they love her more than me) and I truly believe that there is nobody better. At work my mum is the Master. I will never fill her shoes.
Favourite things about working together?
Working with my mum is an honour, getting to see her everyday is a bonus too. People may think that she would let me get away with things, but oh no, she still likes to let me know she is the boss!
Favourite things to make?
My favorite thing to make and should I say my most rewarding achievement has been succeeding in learning to make hand pleats for a dress shirt. It looks easy, but that's just the way Mum and Gwen make it look. When I started, it looked like the row of pleats were more like crooked bananas, but with lots of practice and advice they have eventually got there and now I am pretty proud of them.
Least favourite things to make?
At first I found spacing out the pleats on a cuff really difficult. I found that either I didn’t have enough material, or that I had too much material left over to fit in. The key is practise practise practise and before you know it, you don't even have to think about it anymore.
My guilty pleasure is shared by all of my colleagues at the workrooms and is my Chris Hemsworth calendar! We have a grand reveal every month when we change the page. This is usually accompanied by a loud phoarrrrr!!
Finally, you are like the bionic woman, with a busy family life, work and activities. How do you fit it all in?
I start each day going to the gym at 6.30 am, that's my time to myself which I think is very important. I come home, get the kids ready for school, shower and head off to work. I would like to say I am very organised (whoever really knows me knows that's not true) and need to be with a very busy household of five children aged 23, 22, 20, 14 and 11, or 6 kids if you include my husband, who has put up with me for 25 years.
I'm the type of person who just rolls with life. When something crops up I deal with it. I don't have a list and timetables as these seem to stress me out. As long as my family is happy, turns up to school on time, thrives and does what is expected of them, I can't ask for anything else.