‘I’m so proud of him’: Chimney sweep is UK’s youngest at just 16
- Credit: RACHEL EDGE
A chimney sweep from Suffolk has made history this week after becoming the youngest qualified sweeper in the UK.
In 2009, Finley Spinks was a six-year-old boy, sitting on a chimney sweep's bike with his father, Nigel.
Mr Spinks had just taken up his long-held ambition of being a chimney sweep, but little did he know a decade later Finley would be following in his sooty footsteps and joining the family business, Chim Chimney.
Now, after an intensive course and years of hard work, Finley is officially the youngest qualified chimney sweep in the country, aged just 16.
"I'm so proud of him. I'm turning 60 next year as well so it couldn't come at a better time," said Mr Spinks, of Collimer Close in Chelmondiston.
"He's always been involved in the business - even as a baby he didn't have a problem with the heights.
"When he was two we were having our house repaired. Before we knew it he had climbed up the scaffolding and made it onto the roof.
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"The builder asked us if he was meant to be up there. I said: "What do you think?""
The youngest chimney sweep before Finley was reportedly a 17-year-old boy from Scotland.
"The assessor for Finley was actually the same man who assessed me when I started, he told me Finley was now the youngest in the country," added Mr Spinks.
From the age of six, Finley was helping out his father, dressing in full Victorian costume with a grubby face and attending weddings - letting superstitious couples shake hands with and kiss a chimney sweep for good luck.
From the age of 12 he took on work with his dad every Saturday, but after finishing his GCSEs in 2018 Finley has gone on to make history in his field.
Finley, who lives with his parents in Chelondiston, said: "It feels great. I didn't think I'd be able to do it but I'm really proud.
"There was a nine-day course and an assessment, all about the health and safety and regulations around the job."
He turns 17 in August and has further qualifications to complete before he turns 18 - letting him independently install wood burners and other heating elements - but he is ready and raring with his own work van.
"I'm too old to do the weddings now, and I'm a bit too big for the bike," said Finley.
Mr Spinks added: "We've got over 3,000 customers after ten years of hard work, and the name Chim Chimney is so recognisable we'll get work just from that.
"It's even the ringtone for the work mobile - when that goes off in the pub people start laughing but it's got me so much business."