Life at CWE – breaking barriers and the stigma of Tourette’s

9th April, 2024

At CWE, we’re proud to be part of the UK rail industry. We believe it’s a great place to work and that our friendly team showcases the best of the sector. In this series, Life at CWE, we’ll be providing a glimpse into the life of our staff. We hope this will give readers a sense of the work our brilliant people do and the diverse range of talents and skills that make up the world of rail engineering.

In today’s edition, we speak to Thomas Dignan about the challenges he faces having Tourette’s, and how CWE has helped him settle into a role he loves.

What are your core responsibilities and what does a typical day look like for you?

Every day here on site is different because I wear quite a few hats in my current role. I have experience fitting meaning that I can be on site for anything that needs to be done especially in the buffer cell, building or stripping parts.

I also control the storage racking outside maintaining the shelves of goods and making sure that everywhere has its own place and can be found within seconds if needed. I was proud to bring in a new system for finding goods which has been really well received and made the storage really smooth.

I would say 70% of my job is physical, unloading and loading, or building or stacking, and I spend quite a fair bit of my time on the forklift truck moving goods, but I have also recently taken on a little bit more responsibility keeping admin in order too, so it’s nice that I get to do a bit of everything.

 What do you find most rewarding about your job?

The most rewarding thing is earing extra responsibility. I have learnt so much while I’ve been here and every single day I continue to learn. I have currently been learning how to properly inspect which will be another string to my bow. The people here are great, they have helped me develop as a person and as an employee and it’s also rewarding to be part of such a motivated team.

Which of your personal skills helps you fulfil your role?

I am organised and creative, which has helped with the goods side of the business. I am also not afraid of getting my hands dirty – no job is beneath me and that’s how I’ve always thought and how I think you can progress here.

What is your biggest piece of advice for apprentices or anyone who wants to learn how to make a difference in the world of rail or engineering.

Be patient. You can’t just come straight out of school and expect to get the best job and be paid the most – you can’t run before you can walk. You have to be open to learn and willing to do the ‘dirtier’ jobs, even when you work your way up the ladder you still always have to be willing to do those jobs. Listen and take on board what others are doing too, you can’t just think you know everything, I have learnt so much off the guys here, it’s great.

Tell me something interesting about yourself

I have Tourette’s – it’s a very good ice breaker! I have lived with it for 27 years and I don’t know any different, it’s just part of me, but obviously for most people it’s one of the first things they notice. I am open about it and don’t mind having a joke, I think it’s important that people are educated about it and know what it actually is. I find a lot of people are scared to ask me about it but I would prefer they ask and then they learn! It doesn’t affect my work life or my home life though; I love my job, CWE have made it really easy to fit in and treat me the same as everyone else.

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