NXWM celebrates women bus drivers with new children’s book

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Bus Drivers Joanne Tarplin, Leona Kirwan and Lynne Hughes with the new book. NXWM

A new children’s book is aiming to encourage women and young girls to consider a role in bus driving. Entitled ‘Wonderful Women Bus Drivers of the West Midlands,’ the book was launched by National Express West Midlands on International Women’s Day. Recently, 120 excited Key Stage 1 children from Acocks Green Primary School in the West Midlands had an exclusive visit and book reading from local bus driver Leona Kirwan.

Aimed at children aged three to seven years old, the book looks at female colleagues at National Express West Midlands and their important roles in the local community. Set across Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country, the book is a colourful, heartwarming tale of women bus drivers and colleagues – Leona, Diane, Saba, Joanne, Lynne and Sharon – coming together in their quest to help save the annual family fun day.


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Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications at National Express Kate Reynolds said: “The transport industry is sometimes perceived as male-dominated and we want to tackle gender stereotypes. We have a fantastic group of women bus drivers and training officers who are great ambassadors for the profession and we hope that by sharing their stories more women and young girls will be inspired to consider a fulfilling career in bus driving.

“The sector has a huge opportunity in terms of attracting women to be drivers and we’re making great strides to provide a welcoming and inclusive culture to help our women drivers flourish in their roles.”

Leona Kirwan, a driver at the company, said: “I’m so proud and really grateful to have played a part in this book and hope it encourages the younger generation to consider driving a bus as a career choice – and more fabulous women too. I’ve been driving buses for over three years now and it’s a great opportunity for anyone to develop their skills, meet new people and see new places.

“I was talking to my niece about my job and she was surprised that I drive buses. When I asked her why she said ‘because you’re a girl.’ It was a perfect opportunity to talk to her about the fact that when she’s older she can do it too and she now wants to come and sit in my driver’s seat!”

Sonya Byers, CEO of Women in Transport, added: “72% of women across the UK are currently in employment, yet they remain underrepresented in the transport sector, accounting for only 26% of workers. The vital experiences and perspectives that women bring to the bus industry help us all to connect not only with each other but also with local customers and communities.

“National Express West Midlands’ ‘Wonderful Women Bus Drivers of the West Midlands’ book is a brilliant celebration of some amazing role models that we hope will inspire today’s young girls to become bus drivers of the future.”

Written and funded by National Express West Midlands, the book was initially shared with colleagues across the business to mark International Women’s Day. The operator is now visiting primary schools to give book readings by its women bus drivers and has plans to sell copies in the future, with proceeds going to the charitable National Express Foundation.