It was an interesting experience being at the UK Coach awards last week, the venue was a new one, and compared to the Mercure Piccadilly Hotel in Manchester, the VIVA in Blackpool, nestling in the shadow of the mighty Blackpool tower as you can imagine conjured up a whole new atmosphere, that for me worked very well. Do not get me wrong, the Mercure was a fine venue and did a sterling job, but ten years down the line it was time for a fresh venue with a good time vibe tacked onto the back of it. And from my previous experiences of working in Blackpool in the mid 1980’s if there is one thing that they know what to do in Blackpool, it is have a party and let the communal hair down.

The awards themselves were a polished act, although this year the format was slightly different as the awards were announced in reverse order, with bronze and silver being announced by the excellent Roger Crisp or the voice of God as he is known, before the gold winner was announced by the guest presenter for each category.This year there were more awards, more entries, and more attendees than ever with over 500 of the Industries finest suited and booted for a good night out. The venue itself was spacious, very well presented, and the food and service were pretty good as well. The lovely Carol Kirkwood from BBC Breakfast News, presented the awards with same panache and enthusiasm as she does the nations weather.Indeed this year her annual joke received a good response, which has not always been the case.

As a judge I know just how much hard work goes into these awards, it is a major logistics exercise getting such an event organised, and like everything any new venture carries an element of risk. But, for me this worked very well, those attending enjoyed a good hearty meal, some decent wines, and then the excitement of the awards themselves. There is no doubt that winning meant a lot to those people who were shortlisted and so they should. As for myself I was honoured to be presenting the award to the UK’s top Coach Driver, the grand Prix of the individual awards. Naturally enough I did all the sensible things that you are required to do, not drink alcohol to ensure that the senses are sharp. Take off the name badge to prevent glare on the official photos, and make sure the button is done up on the suit jacket. Either way make your way to the lectern when called, say your bit, and then when asked open the envelope and announce the winner. Take required photos and then walk off the stage without falling over.

Delighted to report that all went according to plan and once National Express Coach had been announced as the winner of the UK Coach Awards from the three finalists (Large, Medium, and small) then it was time for the Viva show to begin complete with singers, dancers, and full stage show. And I  have to say that overall it was great fun, apart from the people at one particular table who had drunk too much and would not be quiet until they were told in no uncertain manner to respect the artists which they reluctantly agreed to do.. So, that was it all over for another year, and just like painting the Forth bridge it all starts again preparing for next years awards.

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