A YORK woman has become one of the country’s few female thatchers after signing up to be her father’s apprentice.

Phoebe Tegetmeier, 32, wanted to work alongside her father to learn his craft before he retired after 40 years in the business.

She decided to leave the city life and return to the countryside where she says she made all of her fondest memories growing up.

She said thatching came naturally to her and felt “more normal” than the various office and pub jobs she did in Manchester, where she lived for 10 years.

She’s now back in York, carrying stacks of straw around and repairing cottage roofs with her dad William Tegetmeier.

There are only about 800 master thatchers still honing their skills in the UK and Phoebe is one of only a handful of women.

Phoebe said: “I think it’s really strange that so few women work in traditional jobs like this.

“It’s such an important part of our heritage and I think more women should be involved.

“Traditionally women never worked in outdoors and laborious jobs but I think we can and we should.

“We are absolutely physically and mentally capable to do this.

“This is a wonderful job which allows you to explore the most beautiful countryside that this nation has to offer.

“And it feels so enriching and fulfilling to be able to restore and save old cottages rich with history from disrepair.”

Phoebe said her decision to join her dad William, 76, came partly due to her desire to work with him before he retired.

She said: “I wanted to learn from dad as well and I know he probably wants to retire soon so I didn’t have much time to do it.

“I want to carry my dad’s legacy and promote this wonderful craft which has slowly been lost over the years.

“Learning from him has been an amazing experience and as cheesy as it sounds I feel like I’ve gotten to know him in a different light.

“I think it’s incredibly important to preserve history.

“Each roof has its own story to tell and we never remove, we just add more layers.”

Phoebe recalled how dad William had messaged her in the summer of 2018 about a job he had completed and how exhilarating it was.

Despite 40 years of daily laborious work she said she was amazed he was still excited about the job every single day as if it were his first.

She added: “I think it says so much about the job but also about my dad that he walked in every day with a massive smile.

“He was so excited by each project he took on and never got bored of it.

“That’s something I want in my life as well.”

In the last year they have undertaken five projects together, climbing up and down ladders, and replacing straw roofs on cottages around Yorkshire and Northumberland.

She added: “I do feel proud doing this work. It’s not something that many even know about but I feel like I’ve done my part.

“There is a personal sense of achievement that comes with doing a job like this - where from start to finish you do everything with your own hands.

“I hope there will be a more diverse workforce and I hope crafts like this never get lost.”

She added: “I feel like I could do this for a long time.”

Speaking about his love for the trade, Phoebe’s dad William said: “I take an ongoing interest in each roof and I know them intimately.”

Fortunately enough thatched cottages remain in Yorkshire and the surrounding counties to keep him in work.

He added: “There have been lulls occasionally but at the moment it’s extremely busy. A lot of the old roofs I thatched first time around are coming up for a re-thatch.”