Drivers take centre stage at BDoY finals in Blackpool

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A significant boost in the number of sponsors coupled to a celebratory atmosphere ensured that the 50th final of the annual Bus Driver of the Year competition was a true reflection of professionalism within the industry.

Chairman Joe Mackie thanks founder John Boxall

Also celebrating 35 years in Blackpool, this year’s event paid homage to its origins as a local competition held in Coventry. Each of the 115 competitors received a limited edition model Coventry Corporation bus, while John Boxall, the man who inspired and sustained the event over five decades, was presented with a commemorative trophy by BDoY Chairman Joe Mackie.

Mr Mackie said: “This is a special year, but it would not have taken place without the vision of John Boxall.”

However, it was the drivers who rightly took centre stage and Mr Boxall reminded the drivers of their special status as BDoY finalists. He said: “Don’t forget you are the crème de la crème.”

Having successfully negotiated local qualification heats, their skill and professionalism was challenged in a series of tests on Blackpool’s Middle Walk.

This year’s winner of the prestigious Bus Driver of the Year award is National Express West Midlands driver Craig Lockyer who was taking part in his third BDoY final. He was joint fifth in 2015. Thanks to the enhanced sponsorship Wolverhampton-based Craig, 32, not only took home a clutch of trophies but also £3,600 prize money.

Sixteen other drivers received prizes, while the very high standard of professionalism on display was also reflected in the 20 buses loaned by participating operators for the driving tests. Five were commended for the standard of presentation.

This year the prizes were presented by the Mayor of Blackpool, Councillor Kath Rowson who proved a popular stand-in.