Rather than trying to fit into a well-worn mould, she and her youthful team have a revolutionary style of running a business and sharing the benefits.
Trudy Thompson has become a youth leader and founder of the social enterprise Bricks and Bread sustainable living centre. At her business, which has a zero carbon footprint, she runs eco-building and waste-recycling courses and organises advice clinics and skills training to help people live sustainably.
As of old, Trudy Thompson is still moving ahead fast and undeterred. She is totally self-taught having not fitted into the caste for a building site trainee. She has managed to etch a track across Aldershot with the growing Bricks and Bread centre, both locally and internationally, as she has an online network of more than 30,000 and with 19 franchises due to open this year and a further 88 in the pipeline for the UK and Europe she is feeding a great need for accessible training and know-how.
It is hardly surprising that the majority of her time is spent public speaking, inspiring groups from between 60 and 600 every week. Exemplary and light hearted, it is impossible not to support her leadership and methods. She explained her hands-on approach.
"When I give talks, I talk about innovation, eco-building, low carbon business and waste. My business is really easy to talk about to anybody because I really love it. I will talk about what I have found to be most useful and I have a 'can do' attitude instead of 'someone else has to do it for me' kind of attitude," Trudy said.
Trudy runs practical building courses offering a work experience programme 'for people who won't usually get the work'. They offer them to women and 'people who would not necessarily be considered able to do these things'.
"In our waste re-use side of things we have kids with disabilities who get work experience for two weeks as part of their schooling, they will learn a real trade and get interested in what they are doing," Trudy said.
In this alone Trudy is opening the doors, breaking the secrecy surrounding certain skills. Her style is based upon a rooted sense of how things are amiss.
"Where does eco building come from?" Trudy said.
"It does not come from multimillionaire designers, it comes from people with limited budgets, or the old fashioned ways of building. So something has gone wrong somewhere," she said.
"All our old buildings used to come from people with local skills or locally sourced and made materials usually by-products of another industry like the farming industry, then we used to have waste re-use."
Trudy Thompson is from a family of horticulturalists and gardeners and with a childhood on farms, she should know. She has a great skill for simplifying situations.
For example, while small businesses say that the biggest hurdle to success is the number of regulations, Trudy avoids many pitfalls and bypasses regulations to make new systems. Her business speak is the opposite of hot air.
"There is so much legislation and bureaucracy," Trudy said.
"Every time I hit a wall with it or hear 'this is the way we always do it' then I always think 'well, you know what, it does not have to be that way'," Trudy said.
She explained the principles of the Bricks and Bread waste re-use cycle.
"Now waste re-use is about using resources that are valuable to people. At the moment the people who place the value on them are waste recyclers," Trudy said. These people have no interest in it.
"This is how it works. If you have a load of brand new bricks on the building site that are not quite right for the job, and the site is of a size that you have to have a waste management plan in place by legislation, then technically that means the best way to deal with it and achieve your waste management is to recycle it.
"That means crushing the bricks into aggregates. That is the same process whether for a completely new packet of bricks rejected because it had the wrong stain on it or something that didn't matter. For one reason or another, it meant it could not be used," Trudy said.
"So the fact is, big building sites claim to have these great management strategies in place and say 'we have got 97% waste recycling going on'".
"Well waste recycling, in that case, means someone with a great big lorry turns up and takes it to the central recycling station," Trudy said.
"But if the waste is re-used locally by people, as at Bricks and Bread, it saves the company lots of waste and it uses a small vehicle travelling a small distance. Also, local people on small building projects can buy cheap materials from us and with the money we raise we can use it to give free training courses," Trudy said.
This is one side of having a zero carbon business. Her new methods stand out from the crowd.
"I don't want to be ground breaking and I definitely don't feel like a pioneer but I am one, most of the time," Trudy said.
"The thing is you only have to say to a builder ECO and to them it means pound signs. It really isn't so, if it is done properly with knowledgeable people who share their knowledge fairly it can be done in a most cost effective way."
“Nothing I have done is because of courage but because I don't like the normal way of doing things," Trudy said.
She is turning the business of recycling and sustainability into a new fad that is very cool. Trudy is also putting it into an ethical packet that is very important in challenging current practices.
Trudy can see through a facade, and untie the confusion of central government's weave of regulations. All that with a sense of humour. Here is another pet subject.
"Take greenwash marketing and people with products in the industry. These people either want you to buy them and they are very expensive or they just want to get into the market place," she said.
"I take myself ten years ago, I thought 'Why are we not building houses that are sustainable when we know how to do it?'," Trudy said.
One day there will be book called 'Trudy Thompson's guide to house building and management' and it will be subtitled 'the Book that makes Sense'.
"I did a talk to University students," Trudy said.
"And the Head of Innovation said to me, 'the one thing you have got, whether in innovation or eco building, are real practical skills'. That makes so much difference. The Head of Innovation had no practical experience," Trudy said.
"No wonder people lack confidence and don't know what to do. I think we are building up a layer of incompetence for ourselves by losing this practical know-how," she said.
There is a sum that does not add up. Trudy sees a lot of work to do. Whether it is in greenwash where names do not match the products, or where theory replaces practice in innovation, she can see the writing on the wall.
"Every day someone clever will tell me 'you really ought to get accreditation for your particular courses because they are so good', but that's because the courses don't have to fit into a mould, they are just sharing real knowledge.
"Our courses are not talking about ISO 4001 and Health and Safety they are saying 'this is how to do it because this is the most natural easy way to do it'," Trudy said.
"If you are the provider of training then there is a real emphasis that it suits you to jump through hoops and become an accredited trainer because you get proper funding.
"But then you dilute the message you are giving as people no longer learn from an expert who knows what they are talking about and the accreditation board wants someone in on the course to pass it," Trudy said.
"On the other hand if in order to be taken seriously in the job market someone has to have a qualification, well, to be honest with you, it doesn't mean anything. It is better that you know how to do it," she said.
The sign of a brilliant idea is that the solution always seems simple in hindsight. Trudy's perception of development is solid, spot-on and powerful. She can decide for herself and see the wood with a few less trees.
"We are so conditioned. We always think 'Oh we have got to meet this planning rule' or 'We have got to meet this legislation' or 'We have got to have this accreditation'. We are so conditioned it is unbelievable." Trudy said.
"Motor sports taught me one thing in particular," Trudy said.
"In motor sports you basically have to be good at what you do or else you are not going to taken seriously. I couldn't see how I was going to get into the construction industry being a woman and it being quite so hostile on building sites.
"So I did everything I could to learn my trade in building before I stepped out onto a site. I read every book going, researched on the internet and really I taught myself by practically doing things," Trudy said.
Having broken through and begun Bread and Bricks sustainable living centre Trudy now takes the lead, running a business that, as in Trudy's own words is 'so very inspirational and gives people hope'.
Click here to read the Achievements to date at Bricks and Bread.
Another article about Trudy Thompson's work with kids coming in a couple of weeks.