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November 24 2017
By Michaela Peacock

Michaela writes for routeone and Group Tourism & Travel magazines

Stagecoach celebrates its Champions

Stagecoach Group has celebrated its employees from across its businesses at its annual Champions Awards.

The awards – now in their eighth year – recognise excellence over six areas including Safety, Health, Community, Customer Service, Environment and Innovation.

Winners represented the company’s bus and rail businesses in the UK and North America. All received a trophy, cash prize and a two-night stay in London incorporating the award ceremony.

Special Bravery Awards were also presented to employees who were caught up in the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.

Stagecoach Group Chief Executive Martin Griffiths says: “We have a fantastic team of employees across Stagecoach and our Champions Awards are about celebrating those who have delivered above and beyond expectations over the past year.”

“We are delighted to have honoured the exceptional people who make a real difference to our business and to our customers every day.

“I would like to offer huge congratulations to all of our Champions and thank them for the part they play in delivering high-quality services to our passengers.”

The 2017 Stagecoach Champions are as follows:

Safety Champion

GOLD: John Edgar, Electrician; and David Fletcher, Cleaner, Morecambe, Stagecoach UK Bus

John and David have had to administer lifesaving care to two members of Stagecoach staff within a matter of months and without their intervention their colleagues would not be alive today. On both occasions the pair have carried out CPR until the arrival of the paramedics and have been widely praised by those involved, their families, colleagues, paramedics and hospital staff.

BRONZE: Rachel Spencer and Cheryl North, Bus drivers, Grimsby, Stagecoach UK Bus

Drivers Cheryl North and Rachel Spencer intervened to almost certainly save the life of a young boy who had fallen into the water of a lock in Grimsby. Rachel jumped into the lock to rescue the child while Cheryl helped from the side of the dock and between them the two ladies managed to retrieve the child from the water. Both drivers remained with the child until the emergency services arrived. The young boy was taken to hospital and after being checked over was found to have no serious injuries.

Environment Champion

GOLD: Martin Foster, Bus Driver, Walkergate depot, Stagecoach UK Bus

Martin has been an Eco Champion at Walkergate depot for over six years and the facility has already been recognised as top in the North East for environmental performance.  Martin's colleagues believe he deserves individual recognition for all that he has achieved over the years. Martin has spent a lot of his own time at the depot checking light sensors and electronic timers save as much electricity as possible. Every week, he goes around the entire depot emptying recycling bins and ensuring that everything possible can be recycled. Every socket is labelled to switch off when not in use and every tap has a sticker to remind people to report dripping taps. Signs are also on display to remind staff to fill the kettle only with the amount of water required. Martin has also built a community garden in the depot so staff can enjoy some fresh air and free fruit every Friday, with the excess turned into compost for plants around the depot.

Health Champion

GOLD: Michelle Hargreaves, Managing Director; and Helen Smith, Operations Manager, Grimsby; Stagecoach East Midlands, Stagecoach UK Bus

Michelle Hargreaves and Helen Smith spearheaded a project to improve the well-being of staff by creating the health and well-being committee to help equip employees with the tools and knowledge for a healthy lifestyle. The vision was to increase morale and productivity and to promote physical and mental health. The first initiative was the delivery of free fruit to all depots every Monday. Meal ingredients and menus were delivered to depots every Wednesday to provide staff with healthy food choices such as eggs, prepared vegetables, jacket potatoes and beans. On top of this, the team introduced the ‘Big Loser’ competition from March 2017 where depots had a weekly weigh-in and were encouraged to lose weight through a healthy lifestyle. Employees were also encouraged to take part in the pedometer step challenge with nearly 370 employees signing up to track their daily steps and get a chance to win a Fitbit.

BRONZE: Kenny Brown, Bus Driver, South Shields, Stagecoach UK Bus

Kenny has taken positive action over the last year to reduce his weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Having been a driver for 11 years, Kenny found that the weight had crept up on him so he joined Slimming World and lost an amazing five stone by giving his diet and exercise regime a complete overhaul. Kenny is always on hand for advice and healthy eating tips and is actively helping colleagues with their weight loss goals. He is a positive role model for bus drivers who have struggled with weight gain in what can be a sedentary job.

Innovation Champion

GOLD: Stagecoach Digital and Stagecoach South East TravelHero development team   

Launched March 2017, TravelHero is a new app that allows customers to plan, book and travel using buses and taxis across East Kent - all in one place. TravelHero - a technology solution developed by the Stagecoach digital team in London - has brought together Stagecoach South East and Kent cab company Longleys Private Hire to make travel easier for customers in the region. In a UK first, it offers customers cashless payments and tailored options, with customers being able to choose either the fastest or cheapest route based on what is most important to them.

BRONZE: Kieran Bolton, Bus driver and CPC Trainer, Gloucester, Stagecoach UK Bus

Kieran has used his previous work experience of 10 years in the army and 25 years as a police officer in Gloucestershire, as well as his own passion for training, to reinvigorate local training courses. He has gained the respect of managers, drivers and engineers for his interesting, stimulating and dynamic course delivery, with staff inspired to put his guidance into practice. Kieran has transformed the rear area of the training room into a mock bus and introduced several scenarios for the driver to manage at once. He then links the role play to the company's conditions of travel, drivers' handbook and other policies. Kieran has developed links with SkillZone, the local Fire Brigade Training School in Gloucester, with local school children benefitting from courses on potential dangers while travelling to senior school on their own by bus.

Community Champion

GOLD: Joe Somers, Revenue Protection Inspector & Customer Relations, Peterborough, Stagecoach UK Bus

Joe has been a valued employee on the buses in Peterborough for more than 56 years, including time as a driver, union rep and controller. Throughout his career, Joe has worked in partnership with a number of organisations to promote public transport and improve facilities for disabled passengers and pensioners. He has also worked with schools in the area to educate children on good bus etiquette. Despite only working part time, Joe still spends many of his own hours promoting Stagecoach and the benefits of public transport. A great example of Joe's work was in helping Stagecoach assist the National Literacy Trust (NLT) with their Peterborough Literacy Campaign. The NLT works to highlight the importance of literacy and the detrimental effects illiteracy can have on individuals and society. With all this experience Joe was also the ideal representative on a project to help bring Stagecoach and Virgin Trains employees closer together. Joe helped educate Virgin employees about the company's bus services and helped carry out training inductions within Peterborough Train Station. Colleagues have paid tribute to Joe's enthusiasm and positive outlook on the industry.

SILVER: Junior Grant, Bus Driver, Sharston, Stagecoach UK Bus

Junior is a valued member of the team at Sharston, with over 38 years' service with the company. He was actively involved in the setting up of the Moss Side Carnival in its infancy in the 1970s and 1980s, helping to bring the community together a high profile and troubled inner city location. He went on to be heavily involved in the Anglo/Caribbean Dominoes Championships bringing people from across the country together with communities from his homeland and introducing other members of staff at Princess Road Depot to team building competitions. Junior was selected to help support the UK Olympic Torch Relay and torchbearers. This high profile role involved assisting with planning the routes and settling the torch bearers into their roles on a very tight operational schedule with high security. In his day job, he helps with special duties such as setting up bus replacement services for Metrolink across Greater Manchester, co-ordinating the Parklife Festival operation, assisting the Message Trust (a Christian charity working to improve the lives of young people), and providing the Remembrance services at the War Memorial.

BRONZE: Norma MacKenzie, Accounts Assistant, Stagecoach Group

Norma has been the catalyst for organising and supporting fund raising activities at Stagecoach Group HQ for the past 20 years. Her initiative has helped local charities through everything from bake sales to raffles. Norma always ensures that everyone in the office can take part and feel involved in all the activities she organises.  Over the past two decades, Norma has organised a Christmas jumper week which she ensures will coincide with the in-house Christmas buffet, with staff invited to donate money for the privilege of wearing them. Norma also organises a raffle and manages to get some great prizes and luxury hampers. The money raised from this and other fundraising events go to local and national charities. To date, over all her many years of fundraising, Norma has helped generated nearly £23,000 for good causes.

Customer Service Champion

GOLD: Carol Jones, Customer Service Assistant, Barnsley, Stagecoach UK Bus

Carol is extremely customer focused and a huge asset to the Stagecoach Yorkshire marketing and head office team. Carol handles Twitter on a daily basis as well as handling many other duties at the same time. She manages to handle a range of complaints and problems effectively, and easily turns a negative situation into a positive with her sense of humour and personal touch. Whether on the phone, over email or on Twitter, Carol treats each customer as an individual with a personalised response and service which shows a very human and friendly face of Stagecoach. Colleagues say that, even through recent personal challenges outside of work, Carol has kept her sense of humour and her customer focus "when most of us would have cracked". Carol is a real asset to Stagecoach.

SILVER: Tom Robb, Bus Driver, Dumfries, Stagecoach UK Bus

Tom, who drives the 101 service from Dumfries to Edinburgh, received 16 nominations. He is described as lovely, courteous, kind and a brilliant driver. Passengers say he is always on time even in poor driving conditions. Staff members who work with Tom also endorse his many commendations from customers, saying he is very hard working. One customer said:  "Tom is a friendly, helpful, polite driver who drives steadily, giving us a comfortable and safe journey. I always feel really relaxed when Tom is the driver. He is a quiet, unassuming man who works conscientiously. The best driver on the route - can't praise him highly enough." Another said he is "extremely committed to customer service and service delivery", while another said: "he’s the friendliest, cheeriest chap".

BRONZE: Geoff Lawton, Bus Driver, Kendal, Stagecoach UK Bus

Geoff drives in the Windermere area and one weekend he had to deal with severe delays to bus services. Despite it being very busy with tourists, Geoff maintained a wonderful, calm manner in his driving. Just as importantly, he kept passengers updated on why the buses were delayed and apologised for the inconvenience. He went out his way to make all the passengers feel welcome, even helping a Chinese family with a group photo of themselves on the bus and speaking to them in Chinese! On one trip down from Coniston when the service was stuck in severe traffic, Geoff gave passengers a fascinating talk on Herdwick sheep, a native Cumbrian species. Geoff's line manager has praised his commitment and the genuine love he has for his job. The company has also received many commendations from members of the public who have been on Geoff's services.   

BRONZE: Andy Nicholson, Cleaner, Skegness, Stagecoach UK Bus

Andy suffers from Parkinson’s disease but, even though his condition has deteriorated in recent years, it has never taken the smile from his face. He's never off sick and still keeps the bus station spick and span in any weather. He is a real credit to the Skegness team and his never give up attitude is infectious to those he works with. Colleagues say he has inspired many other members of staff due to his amazing attitude towards life and many are known to look up to Andy, admiring his amazing work ethic. 


Stagecoach Manchester, Stagecoach UK Bus

In May 2017, 22 people, including children, were killed and dozens more injured in a suicide bombing at a crowded pop concert in Manchester Arena.

It was the deadliest attack in Britain in a decade. Out of such a terrible event, there were many stories of courage and compassion. Shortly after the explosion, Stagecoach night inspectors travelled to the scene and quickly became involved in assisting where they could in the immediate aftermath, including directing the public away from the scene of the incident.

In total, 17 drivers stayed behind after their duties finished to be on standby, and three were called up to drive the injured to hospital in Bolton and Oldham in order to save vital ambulance resources.

The team worked tirelessly in the following days to provide a replacement bus service at short notice while tram services could not operate, with around 20 drivers and 40 vehicles required each day.

The team as a whole and several named individuals highlighted here have been praised for their professionalism and tireless work both on the night and subsequently in supporting the emergency services and partner organisations, as well as helping the city recover.


Alexandru Manasa and Nazeem Islam, Bus Drivers, Catford, Stagecoach London

Alexandru and Nazeem were driving buses on route 47 bus on the evening of 3 June 2017 when they were caught up in the terrorist incident at London Bridge. Aware of recent terrorist incidents, Alexandru advised passengers to stay on the bus for their own safety.

He then assisted a group of distressed tourists get to the nearest train station. Later he helped police move pedestrians from the area and assisted local drivers to navigate around the diversions.

Armed police officers ordered everyone on Nazeem's bus to evacuate the vehicle. The bus was commandeered and Nazeem was asked to assist in moving the injured pedestrians and witnesses away from the scene to a hotel in Liverpool Street.

Nazeem was exposed to people with some horrific injuries but remained calm and professional throughout. On his way to the hotel, Nazeem was given permission to drive the wrong way down one way streets and proceed through red lights to get the injured assistance as soon as possible.

Both Alexandru and Nazeem put the needs of others first in an extremely terrifying situation.

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