Coach Driver of the Year
This award will be 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 2009.
To win the title of Coach Driver of the Year, entrants 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.
The Winner: Phil Bingham, Hardings International, Redditch
Phil Bingham was the longest serving driver for Hardings Coaches, and held an exemplarary record spanning over 30 years, never having had an accident nor given the company a moment's concern.
Sadly, after we announced the short-list on 17 March, Phil Bingham passed away, after contracting cancer last December. However, both his widow Lesley and his employers were keen to allow his name to go forward to the final judging, and the management committee agreed. His award was collected by his widow Lesley on his behalf.
A customer from Hardings told us, ‘He oozes personality, and is such a good driver that there has never been an occasion when people really noticed the traffic situation.’
His employers at Hardings told us that he was an inspiration to other drivers. "To achieve Phil's success was a goal for many a new driver. He never ceased to help and support other drivers and colleagues in the coaching industry. He was meticulous, researching every tour, working out routes, everything he could possibly do to make each tour special for the passengers and a success for the company."
“Phil was a true ambassador for Hardings and the wider coach industry, but he was also known for his tremendous sense of humour and fun. Phil was not only a brilliant driver, and an excellent colleague, he was a true friend."
Another customer who nominated Phil told us, "Phil is an excellent driver. I have always felt completely safe with him. He is always extremely helpfull & considerate. He is wonderful with the elderly ladies who are usually a part of my party, looking after them. He always joins in with the fun so that you feel he is one of the party. His knowledge of routes & places is second to none."
Runner Up: Vanessa Husband, Marshalls Coaches, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire
Vanessa joined Marshalls eleven years ago, and has held a PCV driving licence for a total of twelve years. She has an exemplary record, and is described by her employer as "excellent. She's always ready to help and is punctual smart and professional."
"Vanessa is always friendly and helpful," one customer told us in nominating her. "She is calm and does not get upset or agitated with traffic problems. When one of our group had a fall and was taken to hospital she phoned the hospital and arranged to take us all later in the day to collect the lady who had her arm in plaster."
The following drivers received a large number of nominations from customers, and are highly commended by the judges for their professionalism, skills and customer service.
Graham Atkinson, Bond Coach Tours, Blackpool, Lancashire
Graham has worked with Bond, which specialises in providing accessible transport for people with mobility problems. since 2004, and has held a PCV driving licence since 2008.
He received a large number of nominations from clients, who praised his professionalism, skills and caring attitude.
Les Edwards, Cozy Tours, Letchworth, Herts
Les Edwards has held a PCV licence for 19 years, and joined Cozys twelve months ago. "Within the 12 months Les has been with us, he has made a huge contribution to our holiday and tour programme," Cozys told us,"designing and suggesting destinations and itinerarys. He has also made a big impression with our customers, with his knowledge, professional attitude and always helpful approach. Many customers are now requesting him on their next holiday."
Customers who contacted UKCA certainly agreed. "He has a sense of humour and loves his job," was one comment. "It's a pleasure to travel with him," said another.
Mike Fitzgerald, Anthony's Travel, Runcorn, Cheshire
Mike has held a PCV licence for over 30 years, and has worked for Anthony's Travel for the last five years.
"Mike is a great tour driver," say his employers. "We receive many favourable comments about him, especially from the Senior citzen groups. His appearance is always immaculate along with any vehicle he is allocated." These sentiments are echoed by customers, who praised his work highly. "Mike is a genuine coach driver," said one. "Not just someone who drives a coach. He comes highly recommended."
Bernard Williams, Anthony's Travel, Runcorn, Cheshire
Bernie Williams has held a PCV for nine years, and worked for Anthony's for five. "He always gives a 100% plus to any hire he carries out and is always eager to please," his employer told us. "His level of customer care across the spectrum of work we carry out is excellent, which is reflected by the number of requests we get for him."
Bernie was taken into hospital at Christmas with a chronic infection resulting in the need for a heart valve replacement. The volume of enquiries and good wishes has amazed his bosses.
The positive comments also came from customers who contacted UKCA. "Always cheerful and will always assist", said one. "He is a polite, friendly person who is well liked," said another comment.
Neil Wright, Coach Choice, WolverhamptonNeil was nominated by customers who praised him as "a friendly caring driver, who will do anthing for anyone. Another told us "His knowledge goes with his experience of driving and he loves going to new places." Neil has now accepted promotion to an office role in operations, but his skills and record during his last year as a driver earned him his commendation.
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 2009.
…and by whom?
Nominations were sought from group organisers and other coach hire clients for the coach drivers they consider worthy of this award.
UKCA organisers are seeking 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 will be assessed on their technical and professional skill. Evidence of this will be 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 will be assessed on:
- Public Commendations
- Disciplinary record
In short, the winner of the Top UK Coach Driver prize will be the individual who best represents the whole range of professional and customer care skills required for this important and highly demanding job.