Unsung Heroes Award

This category is presented every year to one or more individuals known for their hard-work, loyalty and devotion to duty.

In many cases, the ‘unsung heroes’ are the ones who keep the wheels turning against all the odds; no transport operator can do without such people – even though they often slave away for years with no recognition save their own satisfaction in a service delivered and a job well done. In other cases, the heroes are people who help the wider industry through their work for supporting companies and organisations.

In 2012, we presented trophies and certificates to two winners:

Michelle Demain, First Rail Support

The first award went to somebody who works in a busy office securing cover for thousands of coach movements a week. Michelle is an unflapable manager who quietly goes about her task in a most efficient manner. She is a well liked character within the coach industry and her boss told us that she would be well worthy of this award for the contribution she makes in ensuring that all available work is maximised within the industry

With her assistant, she's responsible for the individual hiring of coaches to cover pre-planned Rail replacement work for train operating companies throughout the UK.

Since the formation of First Rail Support in 1994, her section has successfully procured over 150,000 coaches to transport disrupted rail passengers.

Michelle has never been known to fail to cover all the Coach diagram work passed to her by the various Train operating companies that First Rail Support serves – often at very short notice. Her vast knowledge of the coach business and the personal relationships she’s developed over the years mean that she’s able to cover the work.

Ian Skeels, National Express

Our second winner works tirelessly to look after coach customers. Ian is the company’s sole on-site representative at a busy terminal, and has a crucial role in maintaining his company’s customer service – and its reputation with local stakeholders.

He works as Coach Station Manager in Cambridge, and is in fact the company’s sole representative at Parkside in central Cambridge. His job is to meet and dispatch coach services, ensuring a safe, punctual and high quality service to customers and drivers alike.

National Express told the judges about his commitment, reliability, strong relationships with local stakeholders such the city council, and his skills in managing services.  “They put him in a class of his own,” they said – and the judges agreed!

Who could be nominated?

Any person working for a coach operator continuously for the last 12 months, who can show service in a management and/or supervisory role of more than five years.

… and by whom?

Employers and other people active in the coaching and coach tourism industry were asked to nominate people within their own organisation or with another operator who, in their view, qualified for this recognition.


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