A 21-year-old woman has been labelled a rock by her father after she kept the family business together when he underwent a triple heart bypass.
Lucy Goldsmith, who only turned 21 on Saturday, joined her father Kenny in his painting and decorating firm three years ago.
But since then, she has worked hard for a CITB (Construction and Industry Training Board) apprenticeship, which she completed in 18 months - six months quicker than usual - after her father found out he needed major heart surgery. She qualified a few weeks ago.
Kenny had been suffering with breathing problems for about a year but it had been put down to asthma.
But when things did not improve, he went for an angiogram to examine his coronary arteries on April 1 and doctors were so concerned by what they found, he was kept at Peterborough City Hospital. He had a triple heart bypass, where a blood vessel was taken from his left leg and attached above and below the blocked artery at Papworth Hospital on April 17.
Kenny, 51, said: “They said it was only my fitness that kept me alive and the surgeons were amazed I hadn’t had a major heart attack.
“They said I was on the verge and if I hadn’t had the operation when I did, I might not be here today.”
The family, of The Broadway, Morton, only returned to the village in 2007 after living in France for a number of years.
Since then Kenny has worked hard to establish his business alongside Lucy, and her sister Emma, 30.
He was devastated to learn that he would have to take up to six months off work after the operation.
But Lucy stepped up to the mark and she has kept the business - K Goldsmith and Daughters - running like clockwork.
She spends her days decorating and her evenings giving quotes. Up until she finished her apprenticeship, she was also doing two days a week at Lincoln College.
Lucy, who studied at the Robert Manning College (now Bourne Academy), said all the hard work has been worthwhile.
“I didn’t think twice, I knew we had to keep the business going. It means a lot to my dad and I really enjoy the job.”
She has high hopes to take her career to the next level and is even considering a university course in interior design and business management.
Asked if she found it strange that her little sister was the boss, Emma said: “We work well together as a team. I don’t feel like she’s my boss, I feel like we’re a team. She helps me out when I need it and we’ve always been friends, as well as sisters.”
And Kenny and the girls’ mother Tessa, a social worker, couldn’t be prouder of their hard working daughters. Their son Chris has also travelled back from China to lend a helping hand.
Kenny said: “It is absolutely fantastic what they have done. I couldn’t be without either of them, they really are keeping the business going. Painting and decorating is all I’ve ever known and now my girls are doing it.
“Lucy is doing amazingly well. She is my rock.”
Now Lucy’s hard work has seen her make it through to the regional finals of the Dulux Apprentice Decorator of the Year competitions and she was due to take part in the latest round of the competition last night. The overall winner at the final in June receives £1,000 in cash and £1,000 worth of tools.
Lucy has also been supported by Stringers Home Decorating Centre in Manning Road, Bourne, which has given her overalls and tools, as well as offering advice if needed.