Unsung Heroes Award

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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.

Shannon Meakin in action at a gathering of historic coaches.Winner, Gold Award: Shannon Meakin, Belle Vue Manchester

Shannon Meakin works as a Data Processor in the maintenance team at Belle Vue's Stockport headquarters, producing work schedules for the company's engineers, ordering parts, arranging maintenance schedules, and maintaining vehicle records. She also takes calls and payments from customers, and turns enquiries into bookings. She communicates well with everyone in the organisation and is an active contributor at staff meetings. For the past two years, she has helped organise a charity day in partnership with St John Ambulance in her spare time. She arranged for three of Belle Vue's vintage vehicles to be displayed and secure several wedding bookings. At just 19 years old, "Shannon has shown exceptional potential", says her employer. "She is willing to try anything and nothing is too much trouble."

Also noting that Shannon has achieved so much at a young age, the judges commented that her flexibility, ability to take on new challenges and excellent communication skills, are just what the industry needs and so made her the Gold Winner.

Donna Thompson from Belle Vue - specially commended in the Unsung Heroes category.Specially Commendations for Outstanding Service:

Donna Thompson - Belle Vue Manchester

As Head of Business and Operations for Belle Vue Manchester, Donna Thompson is responsible for managing the company's policies and ensuring operational effectiveness across the business. Over the past four years, she has overseen the implementation of various accreditations including ISO 9001, 14001 and 18001. Donna oversees the management of all departments in the business and ensures compliance and efficiency. She has pushed herself into a prominent and respected position within the company, now working with the directors and managing director - a great achievement for someone who joined the company five years ago as a part-time call handler.

The judges said that Donna is clearly passionate about the company and has worked hard to rise to such a senior level within the business, playing a significant role in all the essential back office functions. They wanted to give her a special commendation to recognise this achievement.


Steve Way from National Express, winner of a special commendation in this category.Steve Way - National Express

Network Planning is not a very glamorous back-room activity, but it literally ensures that the wheels keep turning. Steve Wray is the Head of Network Planning for National Express, leading a team of seven people overseeing the entire network, including transport for special events and last minute road replacement services. He has a reputation for being personable, enthusiastic and passionate about best practice, and most importantly, getting the job done. His employer speaks very highly of him: "Steve is as comfortable in the drivers mess room debating schedule and timetable issues as he is in the Boardroom of the UK's major Airports discussing surface access strategy - he is a delight to have in the team and National Express is a greater place as a result of having Steve around."

The judges commented that network planning is an often forgotten, but vital role, and that Steve has played a pivotal role in the development of National Express' network.

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 industry were asked to nominate people within their own organisation or with another operator who, in their view, qualified for this recognition.

Criteria and Entry Requirements

The judges based their decision on the basis of the quality of the submissions made, which were required to set out:

  • The nominee’s length of service
  • The nature and extent of their current responsibilities
  • The consistency of the nominee’s record of achievement
  • The sustainability of the entrant’s contributions


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