Top UK Coach Driver
This award is presented to the coach driver who has best demonstrated excellent performance from the customer perspective in the 12 month period to the end of December 2018.
To win the title of Top UK Coach Driver, nominees need to go that extra mile to provide the customer’s ideal: a driver who is friendly, helpful, conscientious and mindful of passengers’ comfort and well-being – in short, a true professional and worthy ambassador for the job.
Winner, Gold Award: Belle Vue Manchester
You get nothing in this life if you don't ask, and boy did Miguel Gonzalez ask! In 2015 Miguel was working as a delivery driver in Tenerife. After discussing with his family, Miguel sent over 400 e-mails to all the UK coach and bus companies with his CV requesting an opportunity to come and work in the UK. Belle Vue Manchester MD Phil Hitchen picked up on his e-mail and sprung into action. Since 2016 Miguel has been living his dream as a coach driver in the UK, with his family by his side. His journey to success has not been an easy ride, but with perseverance, determination and assistance from the Belle Vue team, he knew he would achieve his goal. Miguel has a great rapport with his passengers. Drivers on one school contract carrying 17 and 18 year olds had to be changed several times due to the poor behaviour of the pupils. Within a month of taking on the route, Miguel had them all sitting down, wearing seatbelts and even helping him clear up their rubbish. When Miguel was moved to another route, the pupils petitioned for him to be brought back. Miguel has developed himself into a true professional, and a worthy ambassador for Belle Vue and the coach industry.
The judges loved Miguel's story and commended Belle Vue Manchester on giving him the opportunity, something which he has clearly repaid as a loyal and important member of the company's driving team. School contracts are the bread and butter for many coach operators, so to find a driver who is able to keep unruly pupils under control assuring a safe and well behaved journey, while also becoming the children's most popular driver, is quite exceptional. This is just one of the factors that pushed Miguel above the other winners in this category to take the gold position.
Winner, Silver Award: Alfa Travel
Mick Lambert has been a coach driver with Alfa Travel since 2004 and is highly respected, achieving the highest standards across all categories of safety, compliance and customer service. Admired by his colleagues, and loved by his passengers, Mick is mostly a resort based driver on the Isle of Wight, operating from the Reading interchange. Last year he delighted over 1,500 Alfa Travel passengers on his tours and received zero complaints. He drove over 30,000 collision free miles, with zero driver hours infringements, and improved his telemetry measured driving style year on year by 27%, responding positively to training he received at the start of the 2018 season. As a result, Mick was ranked the number one Alfa Travel driver for 2018.
Already the company's coach driver of the year, the judges were impressed with Michael's accident free record and the high number of passenger commendations.
Winner, Bronze Award: Rennies Coaches
Scott Seath holds an exemplary driving record and has never had an accident in his 33 year driving career. Rennies Coaches can count on Scott to have the ability to drive any sized coach, anywhere, for any type of hire. Scott is a highly reliable employee with a willingness to undertake any job, large or small. He offers help to younger, less experienced drivers and is kind and professional with all of his colleagues. Scott has a keen interest in the vehicles that he drives and he makes sure that they are pristine and well presented for the next job. He takes pride in his work and puts the customer first every time. Clients request Scott as their driver time and time again, testament to the high quality of customer service and care that he delivers. He goes above and beyond what is asked of him, and always thinks of the customers' on board experience, and enhances their enjoyment at their destination by researching things to see and do. Scott is a credit to Rennies, the coach industry and the company is proud to have him as a driver.
Scott impressed the judges, not only with his 33 years of accident free driving, but also his professionalism and care, always willing to take on new tasks. An all round good egg, commented one of the panel.
Finalist: Crosskeys Coaches
Thanks not only his nine years of service, but due to his kindness and high levels of politeness and helpfulness, driver Justin Roberts has become a firm favourite with customers and staff at Crosskeys Coaches in Folkestone. He is often requested by customers to be their driver and is always willing to go the extra mile with customer's questions and requests. Justin will always be the first to assist his colleagues with any route knowledge that they request from him. It's clear to see by how well he looks after his coach and passengers that he is proud to be part of the team at Crosskeys - and they are proud to have him.
Finalist: Crosskeys Coaches
No matter the job or weather, Crosskeys Coaches driver Neil Swan has always got a smile and is looking to make people's journey the best it can be. He has unbeatable amount of enthusiasm for the job and for making people happy and laugh. He also makes them want to return again and again. Neil is always friendly and happy go lucky, looking to help and put a smile on everybody's face. And with such a great and funny personality, he is instantly likeable, making him one of Crosskeys most loved drivers.
Finalist: Shearings Holidays
Phil Thomas is one of those coach drivers you dream of recruiting, enthuses his employer, Shearings Holidays. He takes a pride in his work, works well with others, and is a splendid ambassador for the company. All of his paperwork is to a high standard and returned on time. As well as being excellent in all aspects of his job, he's also extremely flexible, and quite happy to adapt to late changes of destination or duration if the job demands it. Whatever you ask Phil to do, and whenever you ask him to do it, you know the job will be done without complaint, and to the best of his ability.
Finalist: Skills Group
Tim Martin has worked for Nottingham based Skills coaches for 16 years, and throughout his tenure, has only exemplified the company's mission to have 'the best drivers in the world'. Quality coach drivers are considered by Skills to be the engines which run the business, and without them, Skills would not be able to deliver the quality service its passengers have come to expect. Tim's determined efforts for the company and his caring attitude deserve to be applauded. Tim always endeavours to meet the goals of the company and ensure customer satisfaction. He is the kind of employee who is desired by all companies. He is able to communicate with all ages of the public and co-workers. He strives to deliver a great service for all different aspects of the business.
Who could be nominated?
Any licensed PCV driver in full-time employment, who has been in continuous employment on coach services for the 12 months ended 31 December 2018.
…and by whom?
Nominations were sought from group organisers and other coach hire clients for the coach drivers they consider worthy of this award and from employers
In the case of public nominations, UKCA organisers then sought further information from employers and the consent of the driver concerned to their name being put forward for the award.
Criteria and Entry Requirements
As well as nomination by customers, entrants have been assessed on their technical and professional skill. Evidence of this was required and could include:
- The nominee’s accident record
- Number and duration of safe driving awards won by the nominee
- Technical and professional skills, as evidenced by such items as internal driver assessment reports or marks achieved in a company, regional or national competition held at the coach rallies or other events.
In addition to the skills section, short-listed entrants for the Top UK Coach Driver award were assessed on:
- Public Commendations
- Disciplinary record
In short, the winner of the Coach Driver of the Year prize goes to the individual who best represents the whole range of professional and customer care skills required for this important and highly demanding job.