Jill McLeanLocal bus operator Stagecoach North East has recognised employees that have demonstrated loyalty and dedication to the company in its annual long service awards.

This year, 66 long-serving staff were acknowledged after accumulating an impressive 2,290 years of service between them, and each one was recognised for their prolonged hard work and commitment over the years at a celebration dinner and awards ceremony at The Hilton Hotel, Gateshead.

Amongst the employees are bus drivers, engineers, administration and management staff based at Stagecoach North East’s depots across Hartlepool, Teesside, Newcastle, Sunderland and South Shields.

Trevor Best, 64 and from Seaton Carew, is Senior Duty Manager at the Hartlepool depot and has worked for the company for the past 40 years.

He said: “I enjoy everything about my job but especially the comradeship we have at work.”

Trevor, who joined as a driver in 1976, became a duty manager in 1984.  He commented: “It’s a very varied role and I did miss the passengers to begin with but I’m still involved today dealing with customers in reception.

“As part of my role I also go into schools in Hartlepool to talk about bus safety and do practice job interviews.  I find that people often remember me from when they were a child from school visits.

Trevor added: “Reaching the milestone is brilliant and I am very proud.  The Awards night was also a great night.”

Jason Astley, Stagecoach North East’s Hartlepool Operations Manager, commented: “Trevor is a star who is a really dedicated member of the team who makes things happen. The fact that staff still thrive on the challenges that their jobs give them after so many years of working for the company is a wonderful endorsement of the efforts they have made, and continue to make, to help shape and develop the company.”

Engineering Clerk Jill McLean, from Sheraton Park in Stockton, is based at the Teesside depot on Stockton’s Church Road, and after achieving her 20 year milestone, is proud but also a little bit surprised.

“I really didn’t think that my job would last this long and that I would stay so long here,” she said. When I started I was working in the travel office and I have spent the past 13 years in the engineering office.

“I enjoy the people I work with and we work well as a team, always helping each other out and the managers are good.”

Nathan Stanislawski, Stagecoach North East’s Teesside Operations Manager, commented: “The long service awards provide us with an opportunity to celebrate our loyal and committed members of staff and to pay tribute to their hard work and dedication. On behalf of the team at Stagecoach North East I would like to extend my thanks to all our employees and especially those who have achieved such impressive service records in 2016.”

Susan Maddison, 60 and a driver at the Slatyford depot for the past 25 years also found her future husband at work.

“I met my husband, who is a bus driver too, at work and life completely changed. I really enjoy my job and get a lot out of it as I drive the same route and know the regulars on my route.

Susan added: “Other jobs I had before Stagecoach North East had poor wages but you can get great overtime here and it’s very good for helping save for holidays and so on. I am so pleased to have reached my 25 year milestone. Looking back it is the best thing I have ever done. Not many other firms that would look after drivers that well.”

46-year- old Administration officer Julie Baldwin from Killingworth has worked at the Walkergate depot in Newcastle for 30 years and still enjoys the different challenges each day brings.

“I love the people I work with,” she said. “Dealing with 280 drivers every day means my days are never boring. As you can imagine there are some real characters in the depot.

“The presentation evening was a great chance to catch up with people who you only speak to on the telephone and people who you wouldn’t normally get a chance to meet, it was a lovely night where we were extremely well looked after.”

Work is a family affair for Julie, who started in 1986 as an Office Junior at Slatyford depot and worked her way up to General Clerk, Traffic Clerk before being transferred to what was Byker depot in 1993 as Administration Officer.

She added: “My husband works at Walkergate depot as a Duty Manager, we met here and have been married 11 years.

“I am amazed to have reached my thirty year milestone. I never thought for one minute when I started as a 16 year old that I would still be here. My father told me to think long and hard about taking the job as I turned down a job at HMRC which he said would have been a job for life!”

64-year- old Driver Billy Martin, based at the Sunderland depot, has clocked up an impressive 40 years of service, most of it as a driver.

He said: “I was a conductor for first six months and then have been a driver ever since. I love it – the job itself and also having a good laugh and a joke with customers. I work on various routes now but, on days off, I do see people from the bus and say hello.” Billy has seen lots of changes over the years and added: “There is lots of traffic now but buses are so much nicer to drive nowadays with power steering.”

After leaving school Billy worked at the shipyards for six months. He explained “I was too young to join the Navy at that point but eventually I joined up for seven and a half years. When I left in 1975 at the age of 23 I was shocked to be told I was too old for work. Too old at 23!

“My dad used to work on the buses so I thought I would give it a try and I’ve been here ever since. My official retirement date is in January but my licence runs for another year so I’ll continue until then.

“I enjoy the job so much and I’m really pleased to reach 40 years.”

For further information about Stagecoach North East please visit www.stagecoachbus.com/northeast