Bex Yearworth is a prosthetic limb technician living and working in Buckinghamshire. She previously trained and worked as a theatre prop maker in London until a chronic illness diagnosis led her to retrain.
Bex sits on the board of Trustees for the prosthetic recycling charity Legs4Africa and won BAPO’s Technician of the Year award in 2022.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I’m 32 years old and live and work in Buckinghamshire as a Prosthetic Technician at Dorset Orthopaedic, Amersham. I grew up in Cornwall and left home at 18 to study Technical Theatre at RADA after being heavily involved in youth theatre growing up. I worked as a prop maker, mostly on London’s west end, for around 5 years before deciding to retrain as a prosthetic technician in 2015. As a prosthetic technician I make, adjust and repair prosthetic devices for both upper and lower-limb amputees. I currently work at a busy private clinic with a small team of technicians and prosthetists mostly working with trauma victims but also those that have had amputations due to ill health and congenital amputees. I have also sat on the board of Trustees for the prosthetic recycling charity Legs4Africa since 2019 after initially becoming a volunteer in 2016.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I’ve always been very career focussed but I’ve never been one for planning per se, I prefer going with my instincts when each opportunity has presented itself.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
I suffered with both poor mental and physical health in my late teens/early twenties and was eventually diagnosed with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos when I was 23. I’ve had to contend with constant physical pain, dislocations and other injuries due to my hEDS and I have had to plan my career to accommodate my condition. When I left theatre in 2015 my decision was largely due to being unable to work long and unpredictable hours which is the norm in that industry. Initially, it felt like a huge failure having studied at such a prestigious drama school. But now I look back on that time as an amazing experience and I learnt so many transferable skills during those years that I still use today.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
I won the British Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists Technician of the Year award in 2022 which was a career-long ambition. I was also the first female prosthetic technician to ever win the award and that felt like a huge step forward for female prosthetic technicians that not only are we capable but also succeeding in these roles. I have also recently been part of the Technicians Gallery at the Science Museum which has also been amazing. The gallery’s aim is to showcase technical roles
to kids aged 11-16 with a practical, hands-on approach and it has been such an honour to be part of it.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
I was incredibly lucky and my Mum raised me with the belief that I could achieve anything I put my mind to so I have never looked at any career and thought that I couldn’t do it, even if it’s been traditionally more of a ‘men’s job’. She has an incredibly successful career as a doctor and medical director and has always been someone I could turn to for advice and support whilst also being an amazing role model. My wider family and friends have also always been incredibly supportive, and I don’t think I would be where I am today without them.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I haven’t had any experience mentoring; I’ve been focusing on the last couple of years on refining my technical skills. I would say my biggest weakness, and something I want to work on both personally and professionally, is improving my interpersonal skills and communication. So perhaps one day!
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?
Transparency from employers and organisations is something that’s massively needed to ensure that Gender Parity is achieved and initiatives such as the mandatory reporting on the Gender Pay Gap are so important and will hopefully serve to accelerate the change needed.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
I would tell myself you always have a choice. I’ve spent far too long in the past ruminating on feeling trapped by feelings or situations when I actually had all the resources to make the changes needed within myself. Learning to redirect those feelings into actions was such an important lesson to learn.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
This year I’d like to grow my social media presence (@prosthetictechbex). I love being able to share my work with fellow technicians, patients or people just interested in prosthetics but I’d love to be able to bring it to a wider audience in the hope that it might inspire more young women to enter a technical trade. I’ve also recently become part of a much larger organisation through acquisition so I’m looking forward to the benefits that come with that such as access to more specialised training. I was lucky enough to visit The Gambia in 2018 with Legs4Africa and I’d love to make another visit to Africa at some point in the future to see their continued amazing work. Legs4Africa fund a series of scholarships for disabled women to attend TATCOT training centre in Tanzania and I’d love to see the training centre and meet some of these incredible women in person.