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Lesley Bunker-Nixon, 45


Pest Control Officer


pounds 14,300 pa


Clophill, Bedfordshire

Pest control, nice job

Yes, well I've always worked with animals. I used to work with somebody who had horses and a cattery. He had a pest control business as well so we'd look after the horses and cats in the mornings and this business in the afternoon. I worked for him for five years. Then I applied for my present job with Milton Keynes Council. I was the only woman applicant and up against 37 men. I've worked here for nine or 10 years.

How did your male colleagues take having you around?

They accepted me very well. They're brilliant. I'm stronger than one of the guys and better at lifting manhole covers. Sometimes you're spending complete days in the sewers. I occasionally wonder what passers-by think of a woman doing this job.

What sort of pests do you usually zap?

We spray for cat fleas, treat inside and out for rodents; there could be rabbits, squirrels, pigeons and mink to keep down. It's ever expanding as Milton Keynes grows. People throw out their rubbish, which encourages rats, and you get mink coming up through the waterways getting into garden ponds. They can take out all the fish in a day. My job is very seasonal, wasps in summer and rats and mice in winter.

Don't you ever feel sorry for the little blighters?

No, not if they're killed humanely. In the old days farmers would drown rats, which we couldn't and wouldn't do. Rodents are a nuisance and have to be kept down. I give talks about my job at Rotary Clubs, WIs and schools and I bring along items that rats have chewed: washing machines, hoses and plastic drain pipes, for instance. The problem is getting worse with the mild winters we've been having.

What does your family think of your job?

My 18-year-old daughter quite likes it because it's unusual, and my partner Eddie is proud of me. He's a housing surveyor so our paths cross at work. In fact, I first met him in a bungalow with rats in the roof.

Ah, romantic

We've been together seven years now. He's happy for me as long as I enjoy what I do.

Tell us about your lovely rat-free home

I used to have a large place with a smallholding with goats and sheep but that went when I got divorced. Now we rent a small end-of-terrace house that I have filled with all sorts of things. I have a collection of about 25 chamber pots, a gin trap, a mole trap and lots of other things I've picked up at boot fairs. We've only a small garden and have flowers growing out of a pig trough and around an old mangle. And water lilies in one of those tin baths and herbs growing in one of those galvanised buckets that was used to remove human waste. We have a pond, which is a haven for frogs and slow worms. Inside we have a parrot called Albert who is really good at talking. I've a polecat ferret called Kofi Annan who I take out and use to keep the rabbits down for a local farmer and three dogs called Brie, Dazzle and Paige.

And we hear you've won an award

Yes, I was the overall winner of a competition run by Datas. You're asked to submit an essay on a subject related to pest control. I wrote about customer care especially about when you are visiting people's houses and the need to explain what you are doing.

How do you feel on a Sunday night?

I never mind going to work. I love this job. You're out there every day and you make some really good friends. If I won the lottery tomorrow I would really miss it.