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My birthday surprise

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Working at HM Land Registry

A cup cake with lit candles.

I found out that I’d got a job at HM Land Registry on my 21st birthday – the letter was on the mat amongst my birthday cards when I woke up. I’ll be 40 in a few days so I’ll soon be celebrating my 19th work anniversary (a Johnny-come-lately by HM Land Registry standards). I started work at the Lytham Office; I remember the office in those days being so busy and confusing. Three years later, a new office was built down the road in Warton and half the staff left to work there. Nine years down the line the Lytham office closed and the remaining staff were all reunited again at the newly renamed Fylde Office in Warton where I’ve worked ever since.

Looking back, those early years seem like a completely different job. I was issued with so much physical “kit” necessary to process the work, such as:

  • five large folders of instructions;
  • scores of stamps;
  • specialist pens and pencils, (including a “crow quill” which was an old-fashioned fountain pen that had to be dipped in ink); and
  • paintbrushes and glass bottles of tint.

If it sounds old-fashioned, that’s because it was! It was a huge challenge to process work quickly and effectively. To HM Land Registry’s enormous credit they’ve done so much to overhaul the systems to become a modern, proactive organisation. There’s still more to do but we no longer issue new members of staff with a set of colouring pencils to illustrate the results of an index map search!

These days I work in a specialist team processing voluntary first registration applications lodged by large landowners. Until recently I was registering electricity substations but I’m now managing my own project, registering land in the ownership of Wycombe District Council. It’s really interesting. I’m enjoying building a relationship with the council’s solicitor and it’s enormously satisfying to see the progress as we register each large area of land.

I wear a number of other hats during my work day too. I specialise in how to record our property price information and I’m a Local Address Manager. This means I have a responsibility to help make sure all HM Land Registry’s records and databases have the address or location of each property recorded accurately. I have lots of contact with my colleagues when they need assistance and, since I work with a lovely, funny bunch of people, it’s a real pleasure to help them out. I’m also a Union rep and it’s been hugely rewarding to help people through any difficult patches in their work life.

Bollywood dancers at the Diwali celebration.
Bollywood dancers at the Diwali celebration

I sit on the local Diversity committee which is great fun. The highlight this year was helping to organise a Diwali celebration for the office that included Chai tea, Indian food and some Bollywood dancers to entertain everyone while they ate.

I’m also an active member of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) & Allies Network in my capacity as a Straight Ally. It’s a source of enormous pride to me that so many of my colleagues are also declared as Straight Allies and are supportive of the work done by the network. It’s allowed me to make lots of new friends and even improved my social life.

This year for the second time I officially represented HM Land Registry at Blackpool Pride and although it didn’t stop raining for the entire day it was such good fun; I can’t wait to do it next year.

Emma and her colleagues walking behind a Land Registry banner at Blackpool Pride.
Emma and her colleagues at Blackpool Pride

Outside of work, I’m no less busy as I’ve just got married and bought a house. The list of DIY jobs will take care of at least the next decade of our spare time (thankfully my new husband is a builder, so I’m planning to contribute in more of a managerial capacity). I’m really grateful to HM Land Registry for giving me the regular employment I need to live my life, and the flexibility to enjoy it.

If you’re lucky enough to find that letter on your mat like I did, seize the opportunity with both hands. Your training may at times seem bewildering but keep asking questions. For me, the best question is always “how does this fit into the bigger picture?” because if you understand that, your small part of the jigsaw will be much easier to complete. Good luck!

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