Awards celebrate success across the board for UK coaching industry
Lucketts and National Express strike gold with three wins each
Coach operators and their staff throughout the country are celebrating after being named as winners in the 2018 UK Coach Awards. The tenth annual awards were presented before an audience of over 280 industry movers and shakers in a glittering ceremony at Viva Blackpool, the resort's stunning Vegas-style venue on the evening of Thursday 10 May.
Long-established giant National Express took home a trio of Gold Awards, having been named UK Coach Operator of the Year for the first time, as well Top Large Fleet Operator. The company is based in Birmingham and operates a network of services all over the country. The company took home their third Gold Award in the Making Coaches a Better Choice category for their work on the development of their new standard coach, the Caetano Levante III.
Winner of the Top Medium Fleet Operator was Grey's of Ely the family-owned Cambridgeshire business which celebrated its 70th birthday in 2017. The Gold Award for Top Small Fleet Operator, went to Woods Travel. The long-established business based in West Sussex is a previous winner of multiple awards.
The Gold Award for Top Express Operation headed northwards to Scotland again, but went this year to Scottish Citylink Coaches, for their high frequency 24/7 900 and Citylink Air services between Glasgow and Edinburgh/Edinburgh Airport. Citylink also took Silver in the Innovation category for their contactless payment system. Silver in the Express category went to Stagecoach South West for their highly innovative South West Falcon service between Plymouth and Bristol.
South coast operator Lucketts Travel also took home a trio of Gold Awards - one each in the Domestic and European coach trabel programme categories, and one for director Ian Luckett, who was awarded the prestigious prize for Services to the Coach Industry. In addition, the company took home the Silver Award for Top Large Fleet Operator.
National Holidays won Gold in the Coach Marketing category for their Declare your own National Holidays! campaign, whilst Yorkshire software company Distinctive Systems were another Gold Winner, this time in the Innovation category for their Coach Manager Online Portal.
The awards were hosted and presented by Carol Kirkwood from BBC Breakfast, a great favourite with the coach industry, who was making her tenth appearance at the ceremony.
Congratulating all the winners, UK Coach Awards chairman John Gilbert said, "Our awards are all about recognising and rewarding excellence at all levels in the industry, amongst all operators, large or small, and in all types of work from express through contracting to coach touring." Awards were presented for high quality operation, and for a range of professional disciplines such marketing, web site design, travel programmes and passenger facilities.
The biggest cheers of the night were reserved for the people awards, which provide recognition to a range of different staff categories, including both customer-facing and back office personnel. Top UK Coach Driver was Mark Breslin from Morayshire company Maynes Coaches, whilst the Customer Service Award was split into teams and individuals. Gold Award for individuals went to Leigh Olsen from Belle Vue Manchester, whilst the team prize was won by Vicki Excel, Kirstie Pike & Ryan Yerrell who work at long-established Norfolk firm Eastons Holidays. The Gold Award in the Support Staff category also went to a Belle Vue, employee, Assistant Maintenance Foreman Reece Deakins. The Unsung Hero Award went to Jim Orr from Scottish Citylink Coaches, who works as Stance Dispatch Controller for Citylink's flagship 900 service. The award for Young Coach Industry Professional went to another mermber of the Scottish Citylink team, operations director Peter Knight.
“Coaching is above all a people business,” explained John Gilbert. “In order to deliver the improved quality and high standards that our customers demand, we need to recruit train and retain excellent staff. Recognising and rewarding our people is vital to retaining and motivating them. We at UK Coach Awards aim to do precisely that, which is why we have such an important part to play in the drive for quality and excellence in our industry.”