I live in the West Midlands near Birmingham , or the second City as they like to call it around these parts. My career has been based mostly with in this region along with the rather lovely County of Worcestershire where I lived in a very nice village in the middle of no where.

When I was younger and was partly educated in Birmingham I used to use the old Midland Red and West Midlands Passenger Transport buses to get me to and from my school on the Hagley Road at what back then was St Phillips Grammar School.

Now, fast forward two hundred years or so and what do I find but the former Midland Red Company and the former WMPTE are now in the main all part of the National Express West Midlands empire. They started off as a National Coach Company and they brought out the incumbent operators post privatisation in 1986 to become what they are today.

I have watched them grow over the years then shrink, and then watched them grow again. In the last 8 years or so, certainly since Dean Finch took over they have transformed themselves from a failing and declining business with low morale and a decaying reputation to rise from the ashes to a pretty good business.

The look and feel of the Company has changed the buses have smart striking liveries that are well cared for and clean. They have invested millions in new vehicles with state of the art passenger comforts and technology. But, equally importantly they have invested in people. National Express have just been presented with a special award at a recent West Midlands Mayoral Assembly event in Birmingham where Citizens UK recognised their vision and leadership in pioneering the Living Wage to their employees.

This resulted in a direct increase to employees both direct and agency who work for them, this is typical of a change in the culture of the Company as lead by Peter Coates the retiring MD who has sone in my view a brilliant job.

Effecting a culture change in huge Companies is extremely challenging but with the right approach it can be done as Giles Fearnley has proved at First UK Bus six years on from taking over. Peter has done a similar job with NXWM and should be rightly recognised for his career long contribution to both the West Midlands and the UK Bus industry as a whole.

So, I take my hat off to Peter and all the team at NXWM, I have been quick enough in the past to point the naughty finger when they have gone backwards but I am more than delighted to say well done when they have done good things.