Sandy Andy gets sooty with new career as chimney sweep

PUBLISHED: 12:18 08 September 2017 | UPDATED: 20:28 08 September 2017

Sandy chimney sweep Andy Neville. Picture: Jon Stockham

Sandy chimney sweep Andy Neville. Picture: Jon Stockham

Copyright Jon Stockham, Apple Photography 2013

A stationery manufacturing boss driven out of business by overseas competition has hurled himself into a new career as a chimney sweep – and he hasn’t even seen Mary Poppins.

Andy Neville, who used to own and run GH Neville Ltd in Biggleswade, has started a Sandy-based franchise of the national Wilkins Chimney Sweep brand – and he’s really enjoying his new challenge fitting cages, caps and cowls.

The 51-year-old from the village of Everton told the Comet: “I wanted to start a company that would provide a professional service to customers in my area.

“I initially thought about chimney sweeping when I visited a franchise exhibition and noticed the Wilkins Chimney Sweep stand.

“I had been looking for a career change and wanted something where I could be more physical – and yes, get my hands dirty! – but also do something meaningful.

“Chimney sweeping ticked all the boxes and I haven’t looked back. Every day is different as I visit different properties of all shapes and sizes, and meet some fantastic people along the way.”

Dad-of-three Andy often gets asked by friends and family whether there really is still a need for chimney sweeps in the 21st century – and he says there most certainly is.

“More houses are opening their fireplaces and installing woodburners, which should be regularly swept,” he said.

“The safety aspects of this are critical, as regular sweeping will reduce the risks of catastrophic chimney fires and the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“My back office system is also very impressive. We keep electronic copies of customer sweep certificates and offer a reminder call service, so this brings a modern professional twist to an age-old profession.

“My wife and kids are fully supportive of what I do – even though they can’t believe I still haven’t watched Mary Poppins, so I don’t appreciate their Dick Van Dyke impressions!”

Andy, who was a director of his family’s stationery manufacturing business for two decades, also helps out at his sons’ youth football team Potton Colts.

As well as sweeping chimneys, he will be offering a power-washing service for patios and drives from early next year.

He said: “After years of sitting behind a desk in an office it’s great to be outside every day, meeting my clients, sweeping chimneys and helping to keep people safe in their homes.”

To find out more, give Andy a call on 01767 680791 or email him on andyn@wilkinschimneysweep.co.uk.

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