Star apprentice takes the road less travelled

Linda Baughan, Practice manager pictured with apprentice Shannon Coltman, 16. Picture: Marie Caley D3351MC

Linda Baughan, Practice manager pictured with apprentice Shannon Coltman, 16. Picture: Marie Caley D3351MC

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AN apprentice from the gypsy community is defying all the stereotypes to carve out a career for herself.

Traditionally, gypsy women rarely venture out to work, but Shannon Coltman, 16, is now one of the most valued employees at Doncaster solicitors Dickinson Wood.

Cassa, a girl from the traveller community pictured in a recent episode of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, attending her school prom. Picture courtesy of Channel 4

Cassa, a girl from the traveller community pictured in a recent episode of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, attending her school prom. Picture courtesy of Channel 4

She told the Free Press her background has no relation to the scenes shown in hit TV show, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, and her parents are extremely proud of her.

Shannon works in the legal accounts department at the firm’s South Parade office - a far cry from the frenzied fervour of big dresses and horse-trap racing, currently hitting the small screen.

Practice manager Linda Baughan has been so impressed by Shannon that she has given her a permanent position and is also on the look out for another apprentice to follow in her footsteps.

Shannon said: “My family keep themselves to themselves. They’re very into education and schooling and are nothing like what people watch on television.

“We have watched the show but our lives are nothing like that. We have traditions and culture going back hundreds of years.”

Shannon, who lives in a house in Bentley, attended the village’s Our Lady’s Primary School before she was home-schooled by her parents, taking her GCSEs at 14.

Aged 15 she sought advice through the YMCA and applied for a role at Doncaster Council, but was too young. Shannon added: “Then it was suggested I went for an interview at Dickinson Wood. I hadn’t thought about working at a solicitors but I went for a short interview and was offered a six-week trial.”

Since last June Shannon has taken on more responsibilities. She is now working on schedules, dealing with mail and carrying out secretarial duties.

She said: “From the first time I was here I felt comfortable. I find I pick up more on the job than I do by studying. I really enjoy working here.”

Ms Baughan said: “Shannon does come from a different background but she’s done incredibly well. She’s turned into the best office junior that we’ve ever had. She’s determined, persistent and extremely hard-working.”

Shannon - who is also studying for a level two in business administration hopes to become a practice manager herself.