2017 Unsung Heroes

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This award will be presented to one or more individuals who perform supervisory or junior 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.

Results 2017

Winner, Gold Award

Chris Leonti who works for Arriva London.

There were two Gold Award winners this year, as the judges were unable to separate the two candidates.

Chris Leonti – Arriva London

For over 40 years Chris Leonti has tirelessly maintained and managed London’s buses to ensure its travelling public receives the best customer experience. Chris is the Engineering Manager at Arriva London’s Tottenham garage, overseeing a fleet of 220 buses. He is renowned for his positive attitude amongst his colleagues. His self-motivation and will to succeed has made him the ‘go to’ man for new and experienced engineering managers, whom they lean on for advice, motivation and guidance. Chris is continually aware of the bigger picture and is often the first to offer a loan of buses from his existing fleet to assist colleagues at other garages. Chris’ desire to work closely with every function within the business has seen the traditional resistance between the operating and engineering teams disappear completely. His unrivalled approach and total dedication to his role has made him a very popular member of the engineering team within the business.

The judges were impressed with the contribution that Chris has made over 20 years in the bus industry, noting his ability to break down the barriers between engineering and operations. The judges also commented on the very low lost mileage figures he has achieved in such a large depot.

Chris Plummer – trentbarton

Chris Plummer helping to promote direct Airlink services to East Midlands Airport.

Since starting as trentbarton’s roadside officer in 2006, Chris Plummer has been dedicated to ensuring each of trentbarton, and sister operators Kinchbus, Notts&Derby and TM Travel’s, every bus stop has easy to understand and up to date information about services. That’s more than 6,000 pieces of roadside infrastructure. Whilst software will produce the timetable for each given bus stop, Chris ensures that it is correct and is easy to understand from that particular location, making changes as necessary. He also ensures that the information is visually appealing and matches the brand detail with what is on the buses. He’s even persuaded a local authority to paint its bust stop poles in the company colours where the stop is exclusively served by services from his company. Back at the depots, Chris fine tunes the fonts and logos on the buses’ LED destination blinds to match the company branding, making it clearer for customers. He’s also been known to paint the railings at a bus station to maintain the brand image. Chris is a safe pair of hands and ensures accuracy in everything he undertakes.

Chris is the man that looks after the bus stops for trentbarton and its sister companies, and who the judges described as the classic unsung hero working an area that receives very little attention, and yet which is so important to customers. With more than 10 years in this role, Chris has shown dedication and ability.

UKBA Special Commendation for Outstanding Service

Lynne Nappin – Arriva Midlands

Lynne Nappin, who works at the depot in Aylesbury now run by Arriva.

Lynne Nappin has been a loyal and hardworking employee for Arriva Midlands and its various predecessors in Aylesbury for over 30 years. Lynne has worked with over 20 depot managers this time, assisting all of them with her knowledge of the depot, it’s staff and the industry as a whole. Lynne is someone who always puts other people’s needs in front of her own. She is naturally helpful and thoughtful, going the extra mile for anyone who seeks her assistance. Lynne’s role is mainly focussed on the day to day administration of the depot, especially on the operations side, ranging from answering customer complaints to dealing Road Traffic Accident reports, downloading CCTV and dealing with the insurance company. She is also responsible for organisation of files, including driver files, legal paperwork, health and safety documents and various other important information. Accounting is also central to the role dealing with payroll, issuing petty cash and sometimes issuing season tickets to the public. Lynne does much more then in her job description to ensure that the depot is operating to the best of its ability.

Another classic unsung hero, said the judges, citing Lynne’s 30 years working with 20 different depot managers to keep things running smoothly.

UKBA Special Commendation for Outstanding Service

Ashley Burrows – Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company

Ashley Burrows who works for Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company.

Electrical Technician Ashley Burrrows is responsible for Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company’s state-of-the-art real-time information kit. The device, which drivers log into when they start their shift, looks like a big mobile phone and sits just above the eye-line on a purpose-built bracket. The radio-communication system is built into it and allows Real Time Control Room supervisors to call and message drivers individually, in groups – such as all those on a certain route – or every driver in the company simultaneously. Brighton & Hove is the only bus company outside of TfL in the UK to use such a device, something about which Ashley is very proud. He re-arranged his own working hours as the bus can’t come off the road if the kit’s out of order. Ashley chose to alter his working day so he could work late into the night to repair buses so they’re not out on the road a second day with their real-time information system not working. The company only has one person ensuring the real time system is so reliable. Luckily that man is Ashley Burrows.

Focussing on a very narrow area, the judges commented that passengers are increasingly reliant upon the accuracy of real-time information systems, so it’s good to see that Ashley and his work are being recognised.

UKBA Special Commendation for Outstanding Service

Martin Brand – First Glasgow

Glasgow-based Martin Brand.

First Glasgow’s Caledonia depot is the biggest in the UK and Major Repair Business Manager, Martin Brand, leads a highly skilled team of 26 staff at the depot’s state-of-the-art Regional Repair Centre. Martin started as an apprentice in the bus industry 36 years ago and he has worked his way up to a management role. Martin and his team provide a vital support function with responsibility for the repair and maintenance of more than 1,350 vehicles across Scotland. The centre has developed high levels of self sufficiency in parts manufacture and has achieved unique recognised repairer status from Alexander Dennis and Wrightbus Customcare. Martin is constantly exploring new ways to innovate and achieve cost efficiency. One example is the mass production of pre-painted aluminium body panels for distribution across the Scottish OpCos. This initiative has enabled the team to speed up its response to business demands by cutting reliance on suppliers and reducing costs. A current initiative is working with suppliers to explore the environmental and economic benefits of using water-based paints in the vehicle spray booth, which again cuts costs and assists the industry through trialing new products. Working to the highest standards and returning buses to customer service in a timely and cost effective manner are core to Martin’s day-to-day activity.

The judges noted Martin’s sustained contribution to the bus industry over the past 36 years, starting as an apprentice, and working his way up to his current high level role in a large engineering centre.

UKBA Special Commendation for Outstanding Service

Jeff Stubbs – Go South Coast (Bluestar)

Jeff Stubbs, who works for Go South Coast's Bluestar operation.

‘Jeff-in-the-Box’ is probably one of the best known members of the Bluestar team. Southampton Travel Adviser Jeff Stubbs acquired this nickname when he used to spend his days working in the so-called Bluestar Box – a small blue cube-shaped portable building which served as the company’s travel office before it opened a shop. The name stuck and Jeff is as happy to assist new drivers understand the various ticket products as he is members of the public who want timetable and ticketing information. Part of Jeff’s weekly routine is to send all the sales figures for the shop to the accounts department. When the shop is busy, he often doesn’t have time to do this in his working day and will take this home to complete so he can send the data off in time. Jeff has become the campany’s go-to person to proof check new fare guides and make sure all the correct details have been included. He will again quite often check this in his own time. He is one of the longest serving staff at Bluestar, and is always there with a friendly and positive attitude.

The judges said that Jeff has provided an invaluable service to passengers over many years. They noted that he is very customer orientated and were pleased to see his talents being recognised.

UKBA Special Commendation for Outstanding Service

Stuart Roughley – Stagecoach Manchester

Stagecoach Manchester's Stuart Roughley.

Stuart Roughley was appointed Operations Manager for Stagecoach Manchester in 1998 and has worked at three of the company’s largest depots in the city. His current role is at the Stockport garage where he leads a team of 425 drivers, 10 allocators, four managers and two administrators. An inspiring leader, Stuart has set the standard for fellow Operations Managers to follow. He earns respect from all who come across him for his fairness, integrity and knowledge. Stuart has developed into one of the most passionate, knowledgeable and experienced Operations Managers in the industry and is credited with mentoring many of the bus industry’s leaders in their first formative years as a trainee. He’s coached a company record of 14 management trainees including a number who now hold senior positions – one Chief Executive, two Managing Directors and nine Operations Directors, quite an achievement!

The judges described Stuart’s entry as impressive. It documents his contribution over 20 years, often in difficult circumstances, at several depots, which is now being recognised.

UKBA Special Commendation for Outstanding Service

Neil Roughton – Arriva Midlands

Neil celebrates his long service with London Transport and Arriva.

Neil Roughton started in the bus industry 46 years ago as a management trainee with London Transport. A succession of operational and management roles followed before he moved out of London in 1988 to the Aylesbury depot of what was then Luton and District. Arriva took over the company, followed by Wycombe Bus, and Neil looked after the scheduling for both depots until his retirement in April. Neil has regularly gone above and beyond his duty to ensure that his schedules are punctual, efficient and operationally viable. He spent a lot of of time regularly travelling on all the services operated by the two depots to ensure his schedules were still relevant. In addition, Neil drove the same shift on a Sunday night on the 280 service for 25 years, which gained him respect with the drivers at the Aylesbury depot who regarded him fondly as ‘Nelly.’ The depot has seen a high number of young managers come and go due to its relatively small size and experienced workforce – and Neil has supported all of them, keen to pass on his knowledge and experience.

Neil’s exceptionally long service in the bus industry over the past 46 years was recognised by the judges, noting that even after his official retirement earlier this year, he still drives the occasional shift.

Who could be nominated?

Any person working for a bus operator or local transport authority continuously for the twelve months ending on 31 May each year, who can show service in a junior 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 is made on the basis of the quality of the submissions made, which needed 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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