Bumper year for First Bus engineers
Apprentices, technicians and engineers at First Bus scooped a clutch of awards at this year's IRTE Skills Challenge – but there was high praise too for their counterparts at Lothian Buses, East Yorkshire Buses and Go Ahead London.
A ceremony at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, Warwickshire saw Transport Engineer Editor Will Dalrymple present the Outstanding Qualified Team Award – for technicians who had the highest-scoring overall performance – to Ian Hemsworth, Steve Price and Andy Knowles of First Bus.
Contestants from operators across the coach and bus sector, including East Yorkshire Buses, First Bus, Go-Ahead London, Lothian Buses, Metroline, National Express and Trentbarton, compete in categories covering a variety of bodywork, electrical and mechanical disciplines.
Winners of the Apprentice Team award were also from First Bus, as Matthew Tetley, Tahir Mansley and Sean Bell all got the judges' seal of approval.
Each year, the IRTE Skills Challenge sees talented engineers and trainees tackle a series of week-long technical problem-solving and diagnostic tests set by the Institute’s specialists – this year held at S&B Automotive Academy in Bristol. The Qualified Mechanical Technician Award went to Steve Price at First Bus, whose Andy Knowles scooped the Electrical Technician Award.
Go Ahead London specialists also scored well, with Ben Evans taking home the Bodywork Technician Award. His Go Ahead London colleague Arnold Duran Cuadros took first place in the Mechelec category, which is open to multi-skilled apprentices who are on at least year three of their training.
East Yorkshire Buses' Jack Jackson won the Mechanical Apprentice category and his colleague Danielle Curtis came out top in the Electrical category.
Ryan Harn of First Bus won the Bodywork Apprentice Award.
The DVSA Inspection Technician Award went to Alex Coombs of Go-Ahead and the DVSA Inspection Apprentice Award went to Kyran Taylor of East Yorkshire Buses.
This year saw a new category – the Judges’ Choice Award – which recognises an individual or team that especially caught the eye. The winners were Kieron Briggs, David McIntyre and Shaun Kenneally from Lothian Buses.
The Skills Challenge Masters category – launched two years ago – welcomed back previous winners to compete in a "best-of-the-best" showdown between technicians who show versatility and excellence in every aspect of their role. It was Craig Perkins of National Express who came out top this time around.
The Philip Margrave Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement went to Richard Belton of S&B Automotive Academy.