Burnett Heads woman Tonia Stokes-Waterson has gone from being Australia’s fastest female motorbike sidecar rider to Your Local Handywoman.
She also had a high-flying career as an investment fund manager, taking risks on the track and in the office.
Tonia now gets her thrills from turning rundown bathrooms or kitchens into modern marvels and helping customers with tasks they can't do themselves.
“I’ve had multiple careers in my life, and they have all come together now,” Tonia said.
“I worked in business with finance, and the maths from this helps me with what I do today.
“I am proud to see the difference at the end of the job, the satisfaction I get at the end is what I enjoy the most.”
Tonia’s passion for fixing and creating started as a young girl when she often helped her dad John repair, renovate or build. She was his “right-hand man” and he inspired her to be the handywoman she is today.
“I was his labourer and we often restored timber boats,” she said.
“My dad was quite proud of the fact that his little girl could spend Saturday under a boat applying a thick layer of antifoul on it, and then on Sunday be dressed, with my hair done all pretty, playing the piano in church.
“My dad packed a lot of learning and experience in to me.
“He really got a son and daughter in one.”
No job too small for Your Local Handywoman
The 51-year-old said she started Your Local Handywoman in 2017 and is called upon for small jobs such as repairing holes in walls right up to full renovations or most recently fencing.
“I have found a lot of handymen won’t go to small jobs such as a hole in the wall,” Tonia said.
“I work a lot with vulnerable families, and I find that mums especially call on me to fix problems like this.
“Sometimes the mums are embarrassed that a child with behavioural issues has damaged something such as a wall, but I am happy to go out and repair it; I reassure them that it is okay, and they don’t need to be embarrassed.”
Along with the small jobs Your Local Handywoman will also take the time to design and create a fresh look, which Tonia said was her moto.
“I spend a lot of the time getting people’s home ready for sale, I work with real estates in the area also,” she said.
“Because I can do everything from plastering, painting to tiling, people are happy to have the one person from start to finish.
“I enjoy organising the whole project for the customers.”
Tonia said there were two significant highlights in her Your Local Handywoman career and that was learning how to tile, and the other was winning the contract to be the repair agent for all of the local Australia Post Offices.
She said that just as her father supported her as a young girl, her husband Tony Waterson, who also works as a local handyman, has been by her side every step of the way.
“Tony is amazing, he promotes and supports women in trades,” Tonia said.
“We teach and learn from each other – we are both very passionate about showing that women can do anything.
“And there’s definitely never any boredom in the job.
“I am booked out all the time, but I am always happy to squeeze people in when I can.”
To find out more about Your Local Handywoman click here.
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