National award for ambulance-driving coach drivers

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Weston-super-Mare coach operators Bakers Dolphin, whose drivers volunteered to help the ambulance service when lockdown struck in 2020, have been recognised with an industry award.

The driving team was named national winners of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) Heroes Award after spending 14 months with Bristol Ambulance’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Many of the drivers spent more than a year with Bristol Ambulance EMS in St Philip’s, Bristol, after lockdown restrictions prevented the company from running holidays and day trips.

RHA Chief Executive Richard Burnett, presenting the award, said: “The coach sector has been on its knees and yet their 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 20 drivers returned to their duties at Bakers Dolphin in May this year after 14 months of working on Bristol Ambulance EMS Patient Transport Services as part of its Covid-19 resilience planning. Bakers Dolphin Managing Director Max Fletcher said the drivers’ local knowledge, driving skills and customer service provided an excellent foundation for them to undergo specialist training to drive ambulances.

“Like most other businesses we were looking at ways we could all get through this. 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,” he said.

Rob Johnson, Director of Operations at Bristol Ambulance, praised the drivers’ resilience during what, he said, at times could only be described as a war zone: “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.

“Going over and above any sense of duty, Bakers Dolphin honoured its company pedigree and acted in the name of public service. Their 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.”

In addition to supporting Bristol Ambulance EMS, some drivers were retained by Bakers Dolphin during the pandemic to provide school transport for the children of key workers.

Bakers Dolphin driver Jason Pole holding the awards presented by Richard Burnett with (left to right) John Neath, Rob Johnson (Bristol Ambulance), Michael Blowers, Jason Pole and Chris Rubery. BAKERS DOLPHIN