Two employees from bus depots in Newcastle and South Shields are celebrating after beating off stiff competition from the UK and USA to receive an award recognising their efforts in improving the local environment and the health of their fellow staff.
The Stagecoach Group Champions Awards recognise excellence over six areas including Safety, Health, Community, Customer Service, Environment and Innovation. Winners at the event represented Stagecoach Group’s bus and rail businesses in the UK and North America
At the awards ceremony in London - now in their eighth year – Stagecoach North East bus driver Martin Foster from the Walkergate depot in Newcastle received the Gold Award in the Environment Champion category for his achievements in promoting environmental initiatives across the depot.
Martin, who will celebrate his 40-year service next year, has been an Eco Champion at Walkergate for over six years and the facility has already been recognised as top in the North East for environmental performance.
His 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 to help save as much electricity as possible, and every week, he goes round 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 leaks and drips. 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 at his depot so staff can enjoy some fresh air and free fruit every Friday, with the excess turned into compost for plants around the depot.
61-year-old Martin, from the West End of Newcastle, said: “I have always been very passionate about the environment, and was heavily involved in the beginning of the ‘eco-drive’ for the north east operations over 10 years ago, which began at the Walkergate depot.
“I also regularly visit schools across Newcastle to talk to the pupils about green issues which may affect them and how they can do their bit, no matter how small, a community role I love doing.
All winners received a trophy, cash prize and a two night stay in London incorporating the award ceremony.
Martin added: “I had no idea that I had been nominated until I saw the letter come through from Stagecoach, and my wife and I were thrilled. We had a fantastic night at the awards ceremony and a great two days sightseeing in London, and it was a lovely thank you from the company.
South Shields bus driver Kenny Brown was presented with the Bronze Award in the Health Champion category after being nominated by his teammates.
A bus driver for 11 years, Kenny found that the weight had crept up on him, and took positive action over the last year to reduce his weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
He said: “After struggling with a ride at a theme park, I started worrying about how my weight might affect my daughter at school. I was inspired to lose the weight I had been carrying around, especially after my daughter hugged me and said she was concerned for my health. That was it; I knew I had to do something drastic.”
After joining Slimming World, Kenny lost an amazing six and a half stone over eight months by giving his diet and exercise regime a complete overhaul. His inspiration continued when he became a consultant for Slimming World, and now runs his own classes on a Wednesday morning.
He also took part in the Great North Run for the first time in 25 years and achieved an amazing time of two hours, eleven minutes, raising almost £650 for Children with Cancer UK.
The 46-year-old driver 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 his fellow bus drivers who have been very impressed by his initiative.
On receiving his award, Kenny added: “It is fantastic to be recognised by the company and by my team at the depot and I am over the moon.”
The event was also attended by TV personality Jessica Wright, who presented winners with their awards. Earlier this year Jessica took part in a campaign to celebrate the style of Stagecoach’s bus passengers across the UK.
Stagecoach North East Managing Director Steve Walker said: “I am delighted for Martin and Kenny and would like to congratulate them both on these awards which are thoroughly deserved.
“They make a real difference to our business and to our customers every day and I would like to thank them, and our many other hard-working staff, for the part they play in delivering high-quality services to our passengers.”
More than 180 Stagecoach employees have been presented with Champions Awards over the past eight years.