It was an inspiring get together last Thursday at the IOM in central London. The posse gathered as required for a ten thirty kick off. As usual there were some familiar and friendly faces, and equally important some new members who had come to judge for the first time. One of the joys of being a judge, is that you really get to discover the best people, processes and innovations that this great industry delivers year on year.
It honestly never ceases to amaze me just how ingenious people are when it comes to delivering first class bus services across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. Indeed I have been fortunate enough to have been a judge for the last nine years now. In that time I have seen some incredible submissions and met many inspirational people both young and old. Indeed it has been an honour to present the Young Manager award for most of the 9 years. It is always very exciting when you open that gold envelope and announce the winner, and so far I have not managed to trip up, or embarrass myself too much, or at least I don’t think that I have. It is also great to be able to give something back to an Industry that has been very good to me and my family. As the son of a Busman,I was lucky to enjoy a close and loving family who enjoyed a good lifestyle with my brother and two sisters. Funnily enough I never thought when I was younger that I would ever follow my dad into the bus industry. But since I joined the National Bus Company as a Senior Management Trainee in November 1982, and started what was to be a three year training programme at the end of which only half of us would have completed it. It was a tough with regular and challenging reviews every three months at the Victoria Coach Station in London where up 8 General Managers, would grill each of us, one at a time for an hour.
This was of course long before the UK Bus awards and 36 years after joining the NBC scheme, I never in a million years ever thought that I would end up doing what I have ended up doing. My expectations when I joined were that I would work my way up through the ranks and become a General Manager or Managing Director. That was the expectation after serving a three year apprenticeship scheme. But, once the National Bus Company was disbanded and sold off Company by Company I ironically found myself being part of a Company buy out at the age of 26 years. Very luckily for me the Directors of Midland Red West, Ken Mills MD, Douglass Ross, FD, and John Wooley ED, were an extremely astute and decent group of men. As it happened they offered all employees who had holiday pay free shares which was equal to a value of 500 quid, this would transform itself into 35,000 each. Truly an amazing turn around for those who took the offer, and a lifetime of regret for those who did not. So, there have always been ingenious and clever people in the bus industry and the UK Bus awards are testimony to just that.