Driving is the icing on the cake for Thereza

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When First Glasgow started to push to recruit more women into driving roles, Thereza Skivington decided to give it a go, and hasn’t looked back since – except in her mirrors of course. She spoke to Jonathan Welch about how she is finding the job

Thereza Skivington’s story could all too easily have been a sad one, but thanks to a campaign by First Glasgow to recruit more women into the driver’s seat, Thereza has been able to make a childhood dream a reality. It was a pleasure therefore, for sit down and have a chat with her to find out what prompted the change of career and how things are going. An even greater pleasure, no less, as not only is Thereza a woman with an inspiring personality, but also one who is very good at baking, and she brought along some of her latest cupcakes which we tucked into whilst chatting!

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Some might think that at the age of 54, it is too late to think about changing career, but for Thereza, it has given her a new lease of life, she says. Following the unexpected death of her brother in January, along with the need to undergo surgery herself, and having lost her father and a close friend in the preceding years, Thereza decided it was time for a change. “It changed my life. I was lost for a good year, he was my baby brother and my rock, it made me appreciate life more,” she said.

Having previously worked as an estate agent, but not wanting to return to a desk job, the gran of two from Rutherglen decided to give it a go: “I applied to First 10 years ago at Larkfield but was turned down. When the women’s recruitment day came up, I decided to give it another bash. I told myself, ‘you are a strong, independent woman, go out and do it.’ My dad’s uncle used to be a bus driver, he used to drive coaches around Europe. I remember being a wee girl and thinking, ‘I want to do that.’ I’d love to drive to a different country,” she continued. Having been a keen volunteer at a local playscheme for many years, Thereza might get her wish, in a way, as she plans to take two coach loads of children to Blackpool in the coming summer – although I suspect the ‘other country’ she had in mind may have been somewhere more exotic than England!

“The training team were second to none,” she continued. “They made it fun. I cannot fault the training. I actually found driving a bus really easy, I couldn’t believe it, the second day of training I was out on the road already! A few of us asked ‘how do they get down that street with a bus?,’ and you could guarantee we’d end up going down there ourselves!” Thereza believes that having a bit more life experience than some of the younger trainees helped her to help them too, especially one of her fellow trainees who was finding the going tough. “I took her to the canteen, sat her down and had a chat,” says Thereza modestly. “I found the route training easy, after working as an estate agent I knew lots of the areas quite well.”

Senior trainer Linda McLeish was confident that she would do well, and has been proved right. Thereza’s personality has been a hit with her passengers. Often to be found on Glasgow’s routes 5, 7, 7A, 34, 34A and 75, her friendly and chatty manner have won her many admirers. “It’s crazy how folk still look at a female bus driver as alien. They always look twice. But I am told by passengers I am a credit to the company and I’ve been told I’m the nicest driver there is,” Thereza told local newspaper The Daily Record – she never expected becoming a bus driver would lead to so much fame, and says that she likes being able to strip away the stereotype of what a bus driver is. “I’d absolutely say go for it to anyone thinking of applying,” she added. “It’s been a game changer for me. I was on holiday the other week, I’d have worked it if it had been allowed! I find the day flies by, before you know it it’s your break.”

Despite a few encounters with some of the less friendly members of the public, Thereza has no regrets about her change of career, and always finds something to laugh about. “I was driving in my car with my daughter last week, and went to pull in at a bus stop,” she laughs. Graham told me that since she appeared in the Daily Record, other companies have already offered her a job – but Thereza has no plans to move on, and is happy to be part of the team at First Glasgow. And while she continues to supply them with generous helpings of freshly baked cakes, I’m sure the team will not want to lose her!