Purple Line 89 driver Aaron Johnson has been crowned Nottingham City Transport’s Driver of the Year 2017 at the company’s Annual Awards Evening held at Nottingham Playhouse on 10th January 2018.
Now in its 7th year, the awards honour the hard work, dedication and exceptional customer service skills of NCT’s best drivers and employees.
Aaron has been an NCT driver for approaching 21 years and is a familiar and friendly face on buses between City, Sherwood, City Hospital, Bestwood Park and Rise Park. He qualified for the Driver of the Year category after winning a Seasonal Driver Award during 2017.
Along with his fellow finalists – Badar Sheikh, Amanpreet Singh and Ian Neal – Aaron was rigorously assessed by mystery travellers several times and demonstrated exceptional customer service and driving skills in busy pre-Christmas traffic.
The mystery traveller summed up Aaron by saying:
“This driver has a smile, a greeting and a kind word for all of his passengers from young children to pensioners. He is very observant of the road and is 100% focused, carefully planning ahead to avoid potential issues. He is very helpful towards passengers, putting them at ease and answering any questions they have without hesitation.”
Receiving his award trophy and certificate from Playhouse Panto Ugly Sisters Bella and Donna (aka John Elkington and Darren Southworth), a shocked Aaron couldn’t believe his win and said:
“After nearly 21 years of service at NCT, I’m in total shock that this has happened because I’m not used to winning things. I’m very proud, humbled and honoured to win such an award against such strong competition, so congratulations to all drivers. Thank you to every one of my passengers on service 89 for your support and friendship and others I’ve picked up over the years. It’s very much appreciated.”
Nine employees were also recognised at the Awards Ceremony with Special Commendations for Outstanding Customer Service or Achievement during the last 12 months.
This included 6 bus drivers who went ‘above and beyond’ in helping their customers:
- Richard Pepper who came to the rescue of a missing 4 year old girl he found on his Turquoise 79 bus, keeping her company and reassuring her until she was reunited with her family through the Police.
- Alex Beardsley and Steve Holmes who drove a Pink 28 double decker bus to A&E at QMC after a lady collapsed on the bus and became unconscious. Steve then stayed with the lady at QMC until her family arrived.
- Paul Shipstone who supported a man on his Orange 35 bus after he had a ‘diabetic hypo’ and comforted him until his family arrived who were then able to stabilise him before an ambulance arrived.
- Denzil Browne who intervened when two teenage girls were being intimidated and harassed by other teenagers and ensured they both got home safely on his Brown 17 bus.
- Scott Grundy who was praised by a customer after he dealt with a very difficult situation on a Grey 53 bus after he arrived into Arnold, where a lady on the bus was very upset, incoherent and unsure where she was. Scott and a couple of passengers on the bus assisted the lady, by trying to locate where she needed to go and finding her mobile phone to contact somebody.
David Astill, NCT Commercial and Operations Director commented, “A huge congratulations to Aaron Johnson who is a very worthy winner of our coveted Driver of the Year Award. He is a very popular driver who is passionate about NCT and his job, as demonstrated by the purple shoe laces and glasses he wears to match the colour of the 89 bus he drives.”
Recognising the achievements of employees ‘behind the scenes’, Special Commendations for Outstanding Achievement were awarded to Josey Robinson, Kerry Cousins and Anthony Carver-Smith following their national recognition and success in 2017.
- Josey Robinson was crowned Year 2 National Apprentice of the Year in the Scania Apprentice Competition last year. From a shortlist of 6 candidates, Josey won the title after undertaking a gruelling six hour testing process where her technical skills were challenged under strict exam conditions and comprised a series of practical and written exams.
- Kerry Cousins, Assistant Engineering Manager at NCT’s Trent Bridge & Gotham Garages was a finalist in the ‘Engineer of the Year’ category at the UK Bus Awards, held in London on 21st November 2017. The UK Bus Awards judges commented that Kerry was a very genuine and thoroughly competent engineer, and were particularly impressed with efforts to bring on the next generation of engineers.
- Anthony Carver-Smith, NCT Marketing Manager took the Bronze Award in the ‘Leadership & Inspiration Award’ category at the UK Bus Awards on 21st November 2017. Commenting on Anthony, the UK Bus Awards judges said he was clearly someone who loved his job and is very dedicated, being a skilled communicator who has been innovative with social media at Nottingham City Transport.
NCT Managing Director, Mark Fowles concluded by saying, “Nottingham City Transport is an important and integral part of the City and our success and numerous national award wins make it the envy of other towns and cities in the UK. These successes can only achieved by a dedicated and committed team and our Annual Awards Night is a great way to recognise and celebrate the people that keep Nottingham moving. Well done to you all.”