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UK Coach Awards ceremony 2010

Awards highlight customer service excellence in coaching and coach tourism

Guests at this year's hugely successful event

Over 70 companies and organisations across the UK coach and coach tourism industry were recognised and rewarded for their excellence and good practice at the Belmont International UK Coach Awards, which took place on Wednesday 28 April 2010 amid the Edwardian splendour of Manchester's famous Midland Hotel.

Amongst the prizewinners were coach operators and coach drivers who were nominated by group travel organisers and other industry customers from around the country.

Outstanding winners were the Warwickshire operator Johnsons Coach and Bus, who won two awards. First the company won the title Coach Operator of the Year (Large Fleets).  The evening was completed when Johnsons were named as Belmont International UK Coach Operator of the Year, a judgement based both on customer nominations, performance data and a 'mystery shopper' exercise to test the company's customer friendliness.

The Coach Operator of the Year (Medium Fleets) title went to Cheshire-based family business Anthony's Travel - a prize awarded to companies with between 11 and 50 vehicles. Coach Operator of the Year foir Small Fleets was named as Nottingham City Coaches, the Loughborough-based firm that runs a fleet of ten executive 49 seaters.

The Coach Driver of the Year was named as Phil Bingham from the Redditch based family operator Hardings International. Phil worked for Hardings for some 33 years, winning praise from customers and his managers alike - and never having a single accident of any kind. Sadly, Phil passed away a few days after the announcement of the short-list in March, having been diagnosed with cancer last December. However, his wife Lesley and employers were keen for his nomination to go forward, and Lesley collected the award on Phil's behalf.

The best practice in coach friendliness has been highlighted by readers of Coach & Bus Week magazine and industry experts. These are categories designed to highlight best practice amongst local authorities, tourist attractions, shopping attractions and service providers in welcoming coaches, their passengers and their drivers to venues all over the country. Top tourist attraction was the The Rheged Centre in Cumbria, with the West Midland Safari & Leisure Park.  In a similar contest for historic attractions, the top prize went to Chatsworth, with Fountains Abbey as runner up.

Sefton Borough Council was named Most Coach Friendly local authority for the second year running, recognising its outstanding service at Southport, with Canterbury named as joint runners up. The shopping attraction that was most coach friendly was named as the Trafford Centre, with Salford's Lowry Outlet Mall scooping the runners up prize, making it a "one-two" for the North West.

There were prizes too for professionalism in specfic aspects of coach operation and management, for coach builders and for providers of support solutions such as software and engineering support.The Setra 416GTHD was named Coach of the Year for the second year in a row, whilst importers Evobus picked up a second award, for Best Industry Support Solution. After sales and engineering support was highly praised by operators from around the country.

Leciester-based Woods Coaches took the prize for best Coach Travel Programme for their "That's Entertainment" series of excursions to theatres in the West End and around the regions. The award for Coach Marketing went to Stagecoach, for their campaign to promote their X5 coach service between Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge, whilst National Express were named as runners up in the marketing awards, as well as being recognised with the Accessibility Award for their work to promote accessibility on their network of express coach services.

Several people were also honoured for their hard work in supporting the industry. UKCA director Chris Cheek said, “Our aim is to recognise the hard work, dedication and professionalism of a whole range of people and organisations involved in coach tourism around the country."  The professionals recognised with awards on the night were Elaine Haglin of Hardings International and Mark Hollis of National Express, both named "Unsung Heroes", whilst Sean Taggart of Albatross Travel Group was given the prestigious award for services to the Coach Industry. Sean is Chairman of the Coach Tourism Council, and also serves on committees for CPT, VisitEngland, British Association of Wholesale Tour Agents and the Small Business Council.

"The judges were really impressed,” said Chris. “There's some really clever thinking and innovation going on all over the country – delivering what matters: better products and better trips for our customers. Whether it's using the internet and other new media or just thinking things through, people really are working very hard, and thoroughly deserve the recognition that the UK Coach Awards delivered on Wednesday night.”

The UK Coach Awards 2010 took place at the Midland Hotel, Manchester. The evening was compered by BBC Breakfast's Carol Kirkwood and the awards themselves were presented by James Berresford, chief executive of VisitEngland. Entertainment was provided by illusionist Matt Windsor. The event was attended by over 230 key players in the coaching and coach tourism industry.

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  1. Further information on the awards – including the full results – can be found on this website.

  2. The UK Coach Awards is run by an independent not for profit joint venture company established by Rouncy Media, publishers of Coach and Bus Week magazine and Transport Events Group, the company that organises the hugely successful UK Bus Awards, now in their fifteenth successful years.

  3. The company delegates the organisation of the schemeto a Management Committee comprising representatives of industry stakeholders and customer representatives.

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