Well what a great day that was my dear chums, I have just returned from the 24th consecutive UK Bus Awards held at the very well presented and accommodating Troxy venue. Deep in down town Limehouse, in the shadow of the banking pyramids of Canary Wharf. The iconic bastions of wealth and prosperity that dominate the skyline, and are a fitting backdrop for what is the showcase event of the UK Bus industry.
The organisation was flawless, and as ever the event was a sell out with over 700 people attending from across the nation, representing every element of the Industry. The major bus groups, the small independents, the rural and shire operators, the sponsors, the suppliers, the trade press, you name it, and someone was representing these essential component parts that make this Industry so great. Equally important for me is the networking, it is wonderful to be among so many friends, people some who I have known since I was a child, and some who I met only weeks ago, its reach strays far and wide, and underpins the fact that this great Industry is as it always was, all about people.
There were some amazing stories about inspirational people across all sectors of the Industry, and the multiple award winners, were truly deserving. The awards are only about showcasing the best that there is out there, and there were some stand out examples. The best award of the event was the lifetime achievement award or services to the Bus Industry. And that went to a man who I started my career with, he has always been the same person and never changed. A proud and typically funny Scouser, Mark Fowles has been the MD of Nottingham City Transport since 2001, and in those years he has steered his Company to be chosen as the best bus Company in the UK 5 times, with today NCT being crowned as the best of the best for 5th time.
We have grown old together as our careers meandered around from our formative years in 1983, when we joined the then mighty National Bus Company, to today November 2019, some 36 years on from when we started. I am delighted for Mark, he has been a champion of the Industry across various facets, not just as MD of NCT, but as a leading light in ALBUM, and Travel Line, as well as the tram sector, and as a major fund raiser for Muscular Dystrophy UK along with his wife Natalie. He is also not a bad rock star (Does a great version of Oasis Wonder-wall), and still plays hockey, even at the age of 93. A great guy and a very worthy winner.
I will take away many great memories from todays awards, as I have from the other 23, I am proud to have been a judge, and an award presenter. I have also been a winner, and stood on the podium with Eamonn and Conor in 2013. I have also been a runner up in 2007, so I know what it means to win and lose, and I am delighted to have been part of this super process, I intend to be there next year God willing, but that is slightly out of my hands at the moment. However, todays event will always be special for me, and I thank my friend Mark Yexley the Chairman of the awards for today. He knows why and I will not forget his kindness, typical of the awards and the humanity that underpins this great Industry. So, until next year where I will report in yet again….