Hawke's Bay plumber Chris Fennessy received a shock to the cistern when he won the 2021 New Zealand Plumber, Gasfitter or Drainlayer of the Year award.
The award recognised excellence in the trade skills of an individual Certifying Plumber, Gasfitter or Drainlayer, who is a respected member of their trade and known for their leadership skills.
As the winner, Fennessy demonstrated ability in trade calculations; in the selection of materials appropriate to the specifications and design of their work; and in applying relevant documentation and regulatory compliance to their work.
Fennessy, owner of Plumbers HB Ltd, said he started plumbing about 23 years ago and has done everything from changing a tap at a mortuary in Hastings to designing and completing renovations on multi-million pound properties in Kensington, London.
But it was a job in Kensington, London years ago that takes pride of place.
"When I was working in Chelsea, London I got sent to a job in Kensington. The house had central heating problems," Fennessy said.
"They asked me for my ID and I thought 'well that's a bit odd'. It was Kate Middleton's house.
"She was lovely, very down-to-earth, very accommodating. She was dating Prince William at the time."
Fennessy has been the owner of his business for 11 years - and with a secret weapon.
"My wife does a great job of sorting everything in the office. I wouldn't have gotten this far without her.
"It's an interesting job with no two days the same.
"I love being able to share my skills with apprentices."
Fennessy has worked in several countries including Australia and London, where he met his wife and he also sat on the Executive Committee of Hawke's Bay Master Plumbers for many terms (until his wife took over his position).
A Plumbers HB spokeswoman said on an International stage Fennessy had shown 'Kiwi' Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers to be "extremely hardworking and focused, as well as trustworthy and honest".
"But most importantly that they are very knowledgeable and well educated in their trade showing that the training and education out tradesmen receive in New Zealand is exemplary.
"All of Chris' [Fennessy] overseas employers now hold 'Kiwi' Plumbers, Drainlayers and Gasfitters in high regard.
"In return he has been able to return to New Zealand with understanding of new modern technologies and how to apply them to suit his clients, he is still regularly in touch with his overseas counterparts whom he has a great relationship with."
She said his leadership stretched "well beyond" the plumbing industry.
"He coaches Western Rangers Junior league soccer team," she said.
"He's also an active supporter and volunteer at Rata Olsen Scouts, including volunteering his own time for much-needed work on Scout hall and camps."