Van Excellence Driver of the Year winners announced

The winners of the Freight Transport Association’s (FTA) 2019 Van Excellence Driver of the Year and Young Driver of the Year, sponsored by Mercedes-Benz Vans UK, have been announced.

Chris Shenton of Asda and Alex Tilley of Moy Park took the Driver of the Year and Young Driver of the Year awards respectively, following an assessment day at Bott Ltd’s facility in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire.

Mark Cartwright, Head of Vans at FTA, which administers the Van Excellence scheme, explained: “These awards provide us the opportunity to celebrate the unsung heroes of Britain: the dedicated and highly accomplished drivers keeping businesses of all sectors trading.

“The aim of the Van Excellence scheme is to raise compliance levels across the industry, and each of today’s finalists has shown what can be achieved with determination and hard work. The very best van operators must be rewarded for their professionalism and high standards. They should all be very proud of their achievements.”

The winners fought off strong competition from the other 12 finalists as they completed a set of tasks that covered all areas of their roles, including legislation, driving skills, risk assessment, and vehicle defect identification. In addition to trophies, their prizes including a holiday voucher, a GoPro and Red-Letter Day vouchers.

Cartwright continued: “This competition shows the depth of skill and knowledge required to become a competent van driver; we hope these awards inspire a new generation to discover this rewarding and challenging career path.”

Shenton, from Tunstall in Staffordshire, said he was “thrilled” to win the title. “I love my role as a driver, and I have always taken it very seriously; to be recognised for my dedication, hard work, and constant thirst for improvement over the years is overwhelming,” he said. “I would like to thank my fellow drivers at ASDA whose own brilliance pushes me to be the best I can. I would also like to thank Van Excellence for providing me with this opportunity to showcase everything I have learnt throughout my driving career.”

Tilley, from Sleaford in Lincolnshire, added: “I’m so pleased I get to drive a van as part of my career as a joiner; I love the variety, autonomy, challenge, and opportunity it brings. To be named as the best young van driver in the UK is an overwhelming feeling and I never expected to achieve such an accolade so early in my career. I would like to thank my colleagues at Moy Park for helping me become the driver I am today.”

Daniel Mackenzie of Scottish Water came second, with Luke Howarth of Alliance Healthcare in third. Additional awards were presented to winners of particular skills tests:

  • Economical driving, sponsored by Quartix: Daniel Mackenzie of Scottish Water
  • Driving style, sponsored by Hertz: Daniel Mackenzie of Scottish Water
  • Legislation test, sponsored by Bott Ltd: Lee Magri of Kelly Fleet Services
  • Pre-use defect check, sponsored by Lex Autolease: Daniel Mackenzie of Scottish Water
  • Manoeuvring, sponsored by Brigade Electronics: Lee McCafferty of Greencore
  • Risk assessment, sponsored by McCarron Coates: Garry Spiller of ASDA

The Van Excellence contest is also sponsored by Bott Ltd, Brigade Electronics, Hertz UK, Lex Autolease and Quartix.

Dan Parton
Dan Parton
Dan Parton is a freelance journalist and former editor of Truck & Driver, the UK's biggest selling truck magazine. He writes for both The Van Expert and The Truck Expert.

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