Marc wins national award for bringing sewer people together
Wastewater engineer Marc Bettison has won a prestigious national industry award for founding the Sewer Men and Proud Facebook group – the largest online community of its kind in the world.
The National Sewerage Association (NSA) has presented him with its Coggin Cup which recognises people who have done exceptional work to promote the sewerage industry.
Marc is a jet vac tanker driver for Lanes Group plc. He is part of the Lanes team delivering wastewater maintenance services for Amey, on behalf of Yorkshire Water.
Marc started Sewer Men and Proud in 2013 by encouraging 40 colleagues and friends to join the Facebook group. Now, it has more than 15,000 members mostly from the UK but also from around the world.
Phil Reaney, Chairman of the NSA, which represents sewer businesses, is pictured, above left, presenting Marc with the Coggin Cup.
He said: “Sewer Men and Proud does an excellent job of bringing drainage and water utility people together, allowing them to support each other, share advice and showcase their expertise.
“Sewer people, by the nature of their jobs, often work in isolation, so having this community to be part of is very helpful. It also does a lot to promote the huge public value of our work and how enjoyable it is to have a career in the industry. But without Marc’s hard work and dedication, Sewer Men and Proud wouldn’t exist.”
Marc said he was felt “overwhelmed” to have won the award. He said: “When I set up Sewer Men and Proud, I never thought it would become quite so big. I thought there would be a benefit from creating an online community of sewer people because our industry is different to others.
“We have our own terminology and jokes and way of seeing the world, and I thought it would be useful to share these experiences. From day one it’s grown steadily, and it keeps growing.”
Marc manages Sewer Men and Proud with his wife, Mia, who has started another group called Sewer Men and Proud Wives, for relatives of sewer workers. From the start, they wanted to make a positive difference.
“We do check and approve each post and monitor the group closely because we want it to be a place where people can have a laugh, share advice, get support from colleagues and feel free to ask questions and get good answers,” said Marc.
“We want to promote and celebrate good practice and high standards in our industry. Over time, that’s something I think we’ve achieved, and every group member contributes to that happening, so everyone certainly can be proud.
“We’re also getting the UK’s sewer industry seen around the world. We’ve got members in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA, India and Europe. Pretty much everywhere. It’s humbling to think what we’ve created.”
Through Sewer Men and Proud, thousands of pounds have been raised for individual sewer workers in need and charitable causes related to the sewer and water industries. The group is also having an increasingly important role in encouraging people to work in the industry.
Glyn Bickerstaffe, Contract Manager for Lanes services for Amey, said: “Through Sewer Men and Proud, Marc’s group is a force for good in our industry. Many people have come to work for us, and for other companies, after joining the group, seeing what the job’s about and getting advice from members.
“It’s raising the profile of our work in a very positive way at a time when we want to attract the best possible people into our industry, to fill skills gaps and continue to deliver excellent service on behalf of our customers.”
Sewer Men and Proud is a forum where people can share a common bond and experience through their work, often through humour. Marc explains how one of the group’s most popular posts has been about how drainage workers always tap a manhole lid after resetting it.
“That got people talking a lot,” he says. “It appears the most popular method is the double tap. The single tap is acceptable. But the three tap is just unnecessary. You have to work in the sewer industry to really understand why.”