Unsung Heroes

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This category will be presented to one or more individuals who perform junior or middle management roles in the industry and are known for their hard-work, loyalty and devotion to duty.

In many cases, the ‘Unsung Heroes’ are those 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, whether they work for the operator or the local transport authority.

Above all, the ‘Unsung Hero’ will be someone who demonstrates the importance of ensuring that the services are delivered for the passenger and for the local community.

Winner, Gold Award

Ricky Lennon - RATP Dev UK

While most of London sleeps, Run-Out Supervisor Ricky Lennon is making sure that RAPT Dev London's fleet of 70 vehicles at Park Royal Garage is ready to our. Arriving at work at 3.30am, six days a week, Ricky is the mainstay of the morning run-out. His core responsibilities are to oversee drivers' pre-service checks, ensure that drivers are matched with the correct bus and oversee their departure from the garage. Ricky goes above and beyond in many ways. He is adamant that only clean buses leave the garage, so if he spots a dirty bus and a cleaner is not readily available, he will grab all the cleaning equipment and do the job himself. He says it only takes 10 minutes - a minor time investment if it means a punctual, clean and safe bus. If he notices a minor fault with a bus that does not require the services of a skilled technician, he won't hesitate to correct the problem himself. If there are requests for CCTV footage that have come in overnight, he can be relied upon to remove the disk from the bus, place it in the safe, and then reload the CCTV system ready for the next driver. He is also happy to lighten the pressure on engineering staff by taking buses for chassis cleans to an off-site location. If he has time to spare before finishing work at 11.30am, he even lends a hand to the controllers, if they need help.

In the opinion of the judges, Ricky is a true Unsung Hero. He fulfills a traditionally hidden and unsung job which is nonetheless essential to the reliability of services throughout the day. When he does his job correctly, no one notices, but everyone notices if he gets it wrong and services run late. His flexibility and effectiveness make him a very worthy Gold Winner.

UKBA Special Commendation for Outstanding Service

Darren Jackson - Abellio London

As Driving Standards Manager at Abellio London And Surrey's Beddington garage, Darren Jackson is responsible for all aspects of driving. Since taking on the role, Darren has successfully led a major turnaround in the KPIs he's responsible for. Beddington historically languished in the bottom 10 of 80 garages of the customer complaints league table. Darren has worked hard with the drivers to reduce complaints, and in April, Beddington was eighth across London - a big turnaround. Mystery travelling scores is another area where Beddington has struggled, usually achieving scores worse than network average. However results have started to improve thanks to Darren's proactive campaign in educating drivers on what it is that mystery travellers are looking for, and getting our sampling the product himself to measure how the drivers are performing. He's also managed to reduce collisions by 33%. He is described by his employer as "a true diamond".

The judges noted that Darren has clearly done a lot of work behind the scenes with drivers, making marked improvements in the KPIs. He is safe pair of hands and works pro-actively to make things better for drivers and the customer.

UKBA Special Commendation for Outstanding Service

John Gordon - Go North East

Bus Station Manager John Gordon works for Go North East predominently at Eldon Square Bus Station, which is one of the most busiest bus stations in the region with over 60 departures an hour at peak times. The role requires quick thinking and knowledge of which routes come from which depot to help achieve the smoothest operation possible for the company and customers. He also has to deal with customer enquiries ranging from a simple timetable query or which is the best ticket to buy, to helping customers when buses may be delayed due to road closures or bad weather. Communication, both internally and to customers, plays a very important part in a role and John has undertaken sign language training in his own time to help him communicate with customers. John thrives in a busy environment and is often seen to be going out of his way to help customers and the company he works for. Some tasks are undertaken out of normal hours, where John has turned up early or stayed late to go above and beyond the call of his job.

The judges were impressed with John's dedication to his role and noted that he often stays beyond his working hours to assist customers. They were also impressed that he is learning sign language in his own time.

UKBA Special Commendation for Outstanding Service

Chris Vest - Reading Buses

Reading Buses' Chris Vest is the company's Academy Trainer. He is responsible for educating and training new and existing staff in both a classroom and driving environment. His work ensures that Reading Buses not only selects the right candidates to employ, but also through his CPC sessions, ensures that that high standard of customer service is maintained. Working diligently behind-the-scenes, Chris takes the lead in both the writing and delivery of the company's annually refreshed Driver CPC courses, meeting business and customer needs. He is the epitomy of a cool, calm, collected, consistent and effective trainer whose efforts shape the actions and approaches of the workforce. His likeable style and knowledge is unanimously respected.

Chris touches the working lives of all Reading Buses' drivers, and the judges noted that he has a satisfaction score of 97.5%, turning around the view of training from a chore to a pleasure.

UKBA Special Commendation for Outstanding Service

Joe Somers - Stagecoach East

Joe Somers joined the bus industry in 1960 as a conductor because he was to young to be a driver, an ambition he fulfilled four years later. And in 1991 he became the first bus driver to pass the Institute of Advanced Motorists driving test in a double deck bus. He then went on to hold various roles at what eventually came Stagecoach East in Peterborough until starting his current role as Revenue Inspector and Customer Relations Officer ten years ago. Joe has also been involved with schools in the area promoting good bus etiquette, and investigating any issues or complaints on behalf of the schools. Although Joe works on a part time basis at the moment he still spends countless hours out of his personal time promoting the company and the benefits of public transport. Undeterred by his age Joe can still be found in full uniform carrying out his revenue inspecting on a Saturday afternoon.

The judges noted that Joe has devoted his working life to the bus industry, and clearly enjoys promoting the use of public transport and helping others make the most of it. He unwavering enthusiasm over many years makes him an Unsung Hero.

Who can be nominated?

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

… and by whom?

Senior managers in both operating companies and local authorities were asked to nominate people within their own organisation or with another operator or local transport authority who, in their view, qualified for this recognition.

Criteria and Entry Requirements

The award will be made on the basis of the quality of the submissions made, which need 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 contribution.

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