A WOMAN who helped hundreds of building apprentices has died aged 64 following a long battle with cancer.

Eugenia Duff-Cooper, known to many as Genia, worked for the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) which later became known as ConstructionSkills.

The mother-of-two initially worked for CITB as a part-time secretary at an office in Church Cottage, in Basingstoke town centre, in 1983.

But her talents were soon recognised and she took on more roles and responsibilities, becoming a careers and recruitment adviser before taking charge of ConstructionSkills marketing across the South of England.

She retired in 2009 because of ill health. Speaking from the family home on the Berg Estate, in Basingstoke, her husband David said: “Genia had so many different roles and she loved her job.

“She was also a fantastic wife, and although she was a very strong character, she was very easy to get on with, and she made friends with everybody she met.

“Back in the 1980s she was responsible for a lot of people in the Basingstoke area going into construction, who were being trained at BCoT (Basingstoke College of Technology).

“She was involved with all the major building companies in Basingstoke as she got their apprentices for them when she was a youth training adviser.

“Genia got the apprentices through college, got them their interviews and got them their jobs – she did everything.”

Her son Anthony recalled his mother’s visits to construction sites around town.

“It was quite funny seeing my mum wonder around in her little white wellies,” he said. “Now there are people who have their own businesses who started as her trainees.”

Mrs Duff-Cooper who also had a daughter, Anouschka, had many interests outside of work, including tracing her family history back to 1700.

She died at St Michael’s Hospice on September 15 and her funeral took place at the Church of St Bede, in Popley.