Sarah is trentbarton’s bus driver of the year

ilkeston flyer bus driver Sarah Meakin has been crowned driver of the year at trentbarton’s really good service awards, after just 12 months at the company.

Sarah, 29, who lives in Ilkeston, was chosen by several mystery auditors as the best of the best – beating all the other winners of trentbarton’s 2016 driver of the month competitions. Sarah has just transferred to the ilkeston flyer from trentbarton’s the two.

Presented with her trophy at the really good service awards ceremony at Nottingham Conference Centre, Sarah also gets £1,000 to spend on a holiday and an extra day off work every year.

Sarah pipped second place driver Joanne Peacock from the keyworth connection and third placed David Walker from the nines. The award was sponsored by bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis.

The judges said: “A ride on Sarah’s bus is a special treat. No matter how you may feel when you get on, you are almost certain to feel on top of the world by the time you get off.

“Sarah starts by saying a big hello to her customers the second the doors are open, before welcoming everybody individually as they get on. Her cheerfulness is so infectious that it has customers commenting to each other on how nice she is.”

Sarah started her driver training at trentbarton in March 2016 before starting behind the wheel of services in May. She said: “I wanted a new challenge and a change of career. My boyfriend was a trentbarton driver so I decided to give it a go.

“I’m a people person and driving a bus is a great job for meeting lots of people of all ages every day. To win this award is a genuine surprise.”

Phil Collison was named hero of the year. The judges said: “A young lady had been out for a night out in Mansfield, and missed her last bus and couldn’t get a taxi. She got on Phil’s bus and explained her dilemma.

“And Phil, being Phil, told her it wouldn’t be an issue, he would detour his pronto bus so it would go closer to her house to make sure she could get home safely. The customer described Phil as being a guardian angel.”

Phil, 60, from Mansfield, is a team leader for trentbarton at Sutton. He said: “I was just doing my job. The woman was obviously upset and because trentbarton trusts our judgment we can help– that’s great and the right kind of responsibility.”

Runners-up for hero of the year were Rob Lee from Langley Mill, who rescued a young boy from a fight and made sure he could get home safely, and Steph Foster from Nottingham, who ensured a late night journey home was completed by a couple leaving the Queens Medical Centre. The award was sponsored by init.

Passengers voted for the customer choice award to go to the allestree bus driver Mick Smith. Mick, who joined trentbarton in 2003, received more than 250 nominations for the award from customers who told trentbarton how great Mick is. He even arranges flowers and cards for when his regulars have been ill. Runners-up were Mick Smith and Andy Salmon.

colleague’s choice, voted for by trentbarton staff, went to Ashley ‘Shakey’ Pearson from Sutton in Ashfield. Ashley, 51, drives the 141 and said of winning thanks to his colleagues: “It’s absolutely brilliant, I feel so proud. Words cannot express how I feel.” He won ahead of Callum Draper from Derby and George Lowe from Langley Mill. The award was sponsored by Personal Group.

brand of the year was the red arrow, the express link between Nottingham and Derby. Fellow finalists were the two and the rushcliffe mainline.

The unsung hero award went to Chris Plummer, trentbarton’s roadside officer, who plays a vital role in keeping the company’s tens of thousands of bus stops informative and welcoming places to catch a service. Chris, 46, from Ilkeston, said: “I’m gobsmacked. It shows the company appreciates what I do. I always want to know that the work I do is spot on, for the company and for the customers.”

Tom Morgan, trentbarton’s director of service delivery, said: “Chris has been with us for more than 25 years and what makes him special is the enormous pride he takes in his work. We wouldn’t be the same company without him.”

Winner of a new award, the engineer of the year is Neil Bower, 58, from Sinfin. Neil, who first joined as a 16-year-old apprentice before returning in 1994 after a break, said: “I wasn’t expecting to win – it’s amazing.” His fellow finalists were Steve Chambers, Aidan Leeke and Miles Williams. The award was sponsored by PSV Transport Systems.

apprentice of the year is Corey Desborough, 19, from Ironville. Corey, three years into his apprenticeship, said: “I’m really enjoying my apprenticeship and winning this award is a big surprise.” His fellow nominated apprentices were Shaun Feuer and James Brook. The award was sponsored by PSV Glass.

The ceremony was hosted by radio presenter Andy Miller and featured as star speaker the snooker legend John Parrott. During the event tributes were paid to BBC Radio Derby presenter Andy Potter, a previous host of the awards, who died earlier this year.

trentbarton’s passengers make 95,000 journeys each day on the 300-strong fleet, covering 20 million miles each year with its drivers independently scored as the best in the UK.

trentbarton managing director, Jeff Counsell told staff: “It is wonderful to be celebrating all the good work our colleagues do, day in and day out, to make us what we are – the really good bus company.”