Luke Howarth of Alliance Healthcare in Exeter, Devon is celebrating today after securing third place in the Van Excellence Driver of the Year competition sponsored by Mercedes-Benz Vans, following a rigorous assessment day at Bott Ltd’s facility in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire.
With more than four million drivers operating vans on the UK’s roads every day, the awards recognise these unsung heroes of our economy, as Mark Cartwright, Head of Vans at FTA, which administers the Van Excellence scheme, explained: “From delivering our online shopping to keeping businesses and schools stocked with the vital materials they need, the essential services van drivers provide are often overlooked. These awards provide us the opportunity to celebrate the unsung heroes of Britain: the dedicated and highly accomplished drivers keeping businesses of all sectors trading.” The contest is also sponsored by Bott Ltd, Brigade Electronics, Hertz UK, Lex Autolease and Quartix.
Mr Cartwright continued: “Van driving is a challenging task; it is both mentally and physically demanding. Drivers must draw from several skills sets on a daily basis, including time management, legislative knowledge, mechanical insight, technical driving skill, as well the ability to lift heavy goods and walk vast distances. It is vitally important that the complexity of their roles, as well as the value they provide, is recognised on a national level.
“The aim of the Van Excellence scheme is to raise compliance levels across the industry, and each of today’s finalists has shown what can be achieved with determination and hard work. The very best van operators must be rewarded for their professionalism and high standards. We are honoured to have this platform to recognise and reward these talented individuals – they should all be very proud of their achievements.”
Luke was pitted against 13 other finalists in the competition to complete of a set of challenging tasks which covered all areas of their roles, including legislation, driving skills, risk assessment, and vehicle defect identification. Luke excelled in each of these tests, and was rewarded for his exceptional technical skills, diligence, dedication, and compliance knowledge. In addition to trophies, prizes including a holiday voucher, a GoPro and Red-Letter Day vouchers.
Cartwright continued: “This competition shows the depth of skill and knowledge required to become a competent van driver; we hope these awards inspire a new generation to discover this rewarding and challenging career path.”
Chris Shenton of Asda was awarded the Driver of the Year title and Daniel Mackenzie of Scottish Water secured second place.
Additional awards were presented to winners of particular skills tests:
Economical driving, sponsored by Quartix: Daniel Mackenzie of Scottish Water
Driving style, sponsored by Hertz: Daniel Mackenzie of Scottish Water
Legislation test, sponsored by Bott Ltd: Lee Magri of Kelly Fleet Services
Pre-use defect check, sponsored by Lex Autolease: Daniel Mackenzie of Scottish Water
Manoeuvring, sponsored by Brigade Electronics: Lee McCafferty of Greencore
Risk assessment, sponsored by McCarron Coates: Garry Spiller of ASDA
The shortlist features expert drivers from Asda, Alliance Healthcare, Scottish Water, Fleet Solutions by BT, Greencore, Elis, Kelly Fleet Services, Amey, G4S Cash Solutions, Moy Park Ltd and Ringtons Ltd.
Administered by FTA, the leading organisation in UK logistics, the Van Excellence programme was created in 2010 to promote the safe operation of vans, represent the interests of the sector, and celebrate operators demonstrating excellent standards. Central to the scheme is the Van Excellence Code, a set of minimum best practice standards all van operators should aspire to achieve, covering safety, efficiency and sustainability.
For further information on the Van Excellence Scheme, including how to join, please visit www.vanexcellence.co.uk.