Four years ago Lance Pettet decided to quit his sales job of 19 years and his commute along the M6 corridor to become a security officer for The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and there hasn’t been a day he’s regretted his swap – even when he’s knee deep in floods from the River Severn.
“One day last year we had a lot of flooding and I had to go home and change my uniform twice. We get a new uniform every year but we’re responsible for cleaning it,” says Lance.
Thanks to Uniform Tax Rebate, Lance has received a rebate of nearly £100 and he’s now getting extra money every year for cleaning his essential clothing through an adjusted tax code.
His job has seen him protect around 300,000 visitors from around the world every year including royals – with trust patron Prince Charles a regular guest – and even the Olympic torch when was carried across the iconic Iron Bridge (built in 1779) last summer. Recently, the National Lottery launched giant balls down the River Severn and under the bridge to help promote changes to the game.
The Ironbridge Gorge is a World Heritage Site and, with ten different museums to look after and a site taking in five miles of the River Severn, there’s plenty for visitors and staff to do. As well as security and anti-terrorism training, Lance has had to do first aid and fire and safety courses. And he’s also handy with a camera when tourists need someone to take photographs of them.
“I love the variety of the job,” says Lance, who was born and bred in nearby Madeley. “You never know what’s going to happen from day to day. It can be bedlam sometimes! As well as security officers we’re caretakers, we muck in, we wear many hats. The River Severn floods on a regular basis and that creates work for us.
“We have several uniforms too. There’s summer clothing, winter clothing, formal wear for royal visits – and we host weddings and banquets too – and wet-weather gear.
“The museum only closes two days a year, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, but it’s not shut for us because we’re still on site.”
Lance discovered he could claim uniform cleaning and upkeep against tax when one of his colleagues mentioned it.
“I found the Uniform Tax Rebate site very easily. I thought ‘that looks alright’. I filled out the form – it didn’t need much clicking – and next thing I knew I got a letter with a cheque. It was quick, easy and fast, with great advice.
“I have spoken to many people in the industry and they are all claiming for uniform cleaning now. It’s such a shame it has to be done by word of mouth. The government keeps it to themselves. This allowance is there for us and it should be morewell-known. It’s very useful.”