The group of 20 drivers from Weston-super-Mare operator Bakers Dolphin who volunteered to help the Bristol ambulance emergency medical services (EMS) in 2020 have been recognised with an RHA industry award.
The team was named national winner of the RHA Heroes Award after spending 14 months with Bristol Ambulance EMS following the winding up of Bakers Dolphin holidays and day trips during lockdown restrictions. The partnership ended in May, with their efforts receiving “unanimous praise” from the seven judges on the RHA panel.
According to Bakers Dolphin Managing Director Max Fletcher, it was their local knowledge, driving skills and customer service experience that gave each of the drivers an “excellent foundation” on which to train for the EMS.
“Like most other businesses we were looking at ways we could all get through this,” Max says. “Our business is over 100 years old and has helped out in wars in the past providing transport, so this was another chapter in our history.”
That comparison was apt to Director of Operations at Bristol Ambulance Rob Johnson, who described the fight against COVID-19 as a “war zone” at times. “It was important for us to find local drivers that were available immediately as our own dedicated team were simply unable to work all the hours while keeping up with the soaring strain on the emergency services,” he explains. “Going over and above any sense of duty, Bakers Dolphin honoured its company pedigree and acted in the name of public service.
“Its support made an incalculable contribution to the lives of those saved by key workers, and proudly served Bristol in helping the city return to normality. We believe they are exceptional candidates for the RHA Heroes award.”
Presenting the award, RHA Chief Executive Richard Burnett praised the drivers further. “The coach sector has been on its knees and yet [the drivers’] selflessness to do what they have done within a sector that had very little certainty or support is fantastic.
“It is an honour to uphold and uplift and recognise what they have achieved because they don’t get enough credit and that makes them a worthy overall winner.”
The drivers returned to their posts with the operator in May.