Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Best Van Drivers Honoured for Keeping Logistics Supply Chain Running

Plus Recognition for a Literal Hero of the Road
Shipping News Feature

UK – Van drivers are usually the first and last people involved in the vast bulk of domestic logistics movements when considering the number of consignments in the supply chain. This week saw the 'best of the best' van operators and drivers recognised at the Freight Transport Association (FTA) 2019 Van Excellence Honours Lunch.

This, the second ceremony held by the FTA was at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Birmingham and, whilst a range of awards celebrated various categories one stood out, demonstrating the calibre of the van driver involved, culminating in him winning the ‘Hero of the Year’ category.

In autumn 2019, a motorist crashed his car at high speed into a lamp post in Fenay Bridge, West Yorkshire; his engine subsequently burst into flames, leaving the driver trapped inside the burning vehicle. Upon coming across the scene, Kevin Marriott, a Sainsbury’s delivery driver used his fire extinguisher from his cab to hold back the flames.

The extinguisher reaching empty Mr Marriott raced to a nearby pub, grabbed more extinguishers, and continued to fight the flames until firefighters arrived. On arrival, firefighters cut the motorist out of the vehicle and Mr Marriott was praised for his brave actions. Award sponsor was Mercedes-Benz Vans UK, and Andy Eccles, the company’s Head of Fleet, commented:

“According to the Collins English Dictionary, a hero is defined as a person distinguished by exceptional courage, nobility and fortitude, and those words are truly fitting for the selfless actions taken by Kevin Marriott. While his employers are quite rightly proud of him, I know the entire van community will be immensely proud of him too, as he has proved that brave, hard-working and committed van drivers are absolutely at the heart of our country, keeping businesses, and indeed lives, moving every single day. Kevin really is a hero and wholeheartedly deserves this recognition.”

Mr Marriott has been driving for Sainsbury’s only for about five months and lives in Holmfirth, less than 10 miles from the drama which unfolded that day. He observed:

“I am over the moon to be crowned Hero of the Year at the Van Excellence Honours Lunch. The support and recognition I have received from both the local community and my colleagues since the incident has been very touching; this award truly is the icing on the cake. I would like to thank my team for nominating me for this award; I am so pleased my actions helped to save a man’s life.”

The full list of Award Winners is:

  • Van Excellence Champion of the Year - Winner: Rachel Bullen, Fleet Operations Manager, Cadent Gas
  • Putting Drivers First, sponsored by Brigade Electronics - Winner: Auto Electrical Services (AES) - Highly commended: McGinley Support Services
  • Using Technology for Good, sponsored by Hertz - Winner: Cadent Gas - Highly commended: Auto Electrical Services (AES)
  • Keeping your Show on the Road, sponsored by The AA - Winner: Murphy Plant Limited - Highly Commended: Reflex Vehicle Hire
  • Making a Difference, sponsored by Lex Autolease - Winner: Reflex Vehicle Hire
  • Helping the Community, sponsored by Quartix - Winner: McGinley Support Services - Highly Commended: Reflex Vehicle Hire
  • Winning at Wellbeing, sponsored by Bott - Winner: Auto Electrical Services (AES)
  • Hero of the Year, sponsored by Mercedes-Benz Vans - Winner: Kevin Marriott, Sainsburys Supermarkets Ltd - Highly Commended: Andrew Robbins, BT Fleet
Kevin Green, Director of Marketing and Communications at FTA, which administers the Van Excellence scheme, spoke of both the bravery of Kevin Marriott, and emphasised the importance of these smaller vehicles to the British economy, saying:

“The Hero of the Year award recognises and rewards the van drivers who go above and beyond the call of duty. Mr Marriott, who fought off flames to save a motorist trapped in a burning car, showed unbelievable ingenuity, bravery and perseverance in the face of adversity. While van drivers play a vital role in our society, too often their contributions are undervalued; Mr Marriot is a shining example of how they can be some of the most hard-working, dedicated and selfless people in the UK.

“As the vans market continues to grow rapidly, there are now more than 4.3 million of them on Britain’s roads, it is important we recognise the van drivers and operators consistently leading the way in excellence. Vans play a vital and varied role in the UK economy, from a means to deliver a consumer’s online shopping to transporting a tradesman’s tools.

”And the role of van drivers and operators is equally diverse: community consideration, employee welfare and use of technology all form part of their day-to-day responsibilities. Yet too often their contribution to society is undervalued; these awards are an opportunity to finally change that. All the winners and highly commended entrants have proven they truly are the best of the best in their respective fields; I would like to extend my congratulations to them all.”

Photo: The winners gather with their trophies around FTA Chief Executive David Wells (centre front) with Kevin Marriott shown on his right.