Arriva’s annual internal awards scheme recently celebrated the best in the business, with females dominating the list of winners


Pamela-ChapmanArriva engineer Pamela Chapman was one of six female winners in this year’s M.A.D. Awards scheme


There are plenty of award schemes that recognise transport industry faces and initiatives, but what about recognising those that go above and beyond their day-to-day role within a business?

Arriva’s UK bus division has run its annual M.A.D. Awards (that stands for Made A Difference, by the way) for the last four years. It aims to shine a light on some of the star players that can be found within the group’s bus operations up and down the country and builds on some of the more operating company specific awards schemes that have been run for many years across the group, as well as the more traditional external schemes, such as the UK Bus Awards.

“External schemes are great,” says Rachel Baldwin, Arriva’s UK human resources director. “But internal schemes are a great tool for recognising and rewarding some of our heroes. What we have done with the M.A.D. Awards is that we have taken the smaller schemes that some of our operating companies have and expanded them to reach across the Arriva operation in the UK. We really aim to celebrate the best of the business.” As Kevin O’Connor, managing director of Arriva’s UK bus division adds: “Our drivers, engineers and support teams are the heartbeat of our business and the M.A.D. Awards allow us to showcase their passion, achievements and commitment to our customers and Arriva.”

Of the 18,000 employees in the group, this year there were 300 nominations and the scheme is entirely open to any employee and they can be nominated by anyone within the group. This means, for example, that as well as managers nominating employees, employees may also nominate their manager. As Baldwin notes, “it’s a two-way process as everyone ends up nominating everyone else”.

Once the nominations have been collated, the process of judging is undertaken. This process aims to be as fair as it possible can be to all nominees. “The judging is entirely blind,” explains Baldwin. “We have a good mix of people on the judging panel, representing management, staff and trade union officials. They don’t know the individual names of those nominated. Judges just know the facts behind the individual and why they are nominated. They don’t know the name or names of the individuals nominated. We try to make the process as fair as possible by putting everyone on the same level playing field.”

Once a shortlist has been determined, all of those lucky enough to be nominated receive a letter that tells them the good news. They are then invited to the gala awards ceremony, which was this year held at a hotel in the Midlands. “Quite a number of senior people have been to this sort of thing before, adds Baldwin. “For those on the frontline that’s not always the case and so it’s a very, very special evening for them. It’s something totally different for them and it’s their moment in the spotlight. We are celebrating their successes and so we want to make it as enjoyable a night as we can.” Key to celebrating their successes is that those that nominated any shortlisted employee are also invited along to the ceremony, as well as the partners of the nominees, meaning they too get to experience and enjoy the atmosphere of the ceremony and enjoy the special moment of the person they nominated.

This year there were 10 award categories taking in a range of themes that celebrated teamwork, safety commitment and wider work in the many and varied communities that Arriva serves up and down the country. However, what was noticeable was that the majority of winners were female, a notable difference in an industry that is stereotyped as overwhelmingly male.

“There was no concerted effort nor any positive discrimination,” Baldwin is quick to note. “Like I say, everything is judged and reviewed on an anonymous basis and that anonymity extends to the sex of those who have been nominated. From our point of view, we want to reflect the communities that we serve and we want to get the best people that we possibly can. Your sex is not a barrier at Arriva, nor to these awards.”

Those female award winners also smash some of the stereotypes about the industry. Named as engineer of the year was Pamela Chapman, an apprentice mechanical engineer with Arriva Midlands, based at its Wigston depot. It is not the first time that the 29-year old has been recognised, indeed she won three top prizes at the prestigious IRTE Skills Challenge 2015, including the blue ribbon Philip Margrave Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement.

“It’s fantastic that Pamela did so well,” says Baldwin. “She is a great example of how the industry is changing to reflect the wider local community. She is a shining example of someone who is truly committed to achieving the highest possible standards in her career. That’s a testament to her dedication to her vocation and she is a brilliant role model to others working in the industry.”

Meanwhile, another female winner in this year’s scheme was Patience Okezie, a supervisor with Arriva London at its Brixton garage in South London. As the judges noted, Okezie leads by example, not only effectively helping to cover the staff required on a day-to-day basis, but also helping to cover additional rail replacement duties. “This,” said judges, “is testament to her contribution. The commercial team can always rely on Patience when it comes to covering rail replacement work.”

Meanwhile, this year’s awards also saw two special commendations awarded to Karl Wilson, a driver from Arriva North West, and James Rossi of Arriva London.

Wilson, from the Speke depot, was praised for his kind heart and thinking on his feet, when he approached management with his idea of displaying ‘Remembering the 96’ on each destination blind in Merseyside on the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster as a fitting tribute to those who lost loved ones. Rossi was applauded for recently assisting a teenage gentleman in getting home to collect his EpiPen due to an allergic reaction he was having on the bus.

“We wanted to recognise Karl and James in the here and now,” explains Baldwin. “Both of these cases showed complete empowerment in the weeks leading up to the awards. They really sum up what being part of the team is all about.”


The M.A.D. winners:

M.A.D. Engineer of the year: Pamela Chapman, Arriva Midlands
Apprentice mechanical engineer Pamela Chapman impressed judges, not only for her commitment, but also winning IRTE Skills competition awards.

M.A.D ABOUT SAFETY: Sammy Gardner, Arriva Transport Solutions
Health and safety rep Sammy Gardner has worked to highlight and improve matters. She has gained an excellent reputation for communication too.

M.A.D. Team of the year: Durham MOT Team, Arriva North East
Arriva North East’s Durham MOT team has excellent MOT presentation statistics, indeed they have gone 30 months with a single failure or PRS.

M.A.D. GIVING AWARD: Rose Forde, Arriva The Shires
Luton HR administrator Rose works tirelessly in the community. She has worked to raise money for a variety of local and national good causes.

M.A.D. Learner: Hayley Mason, Arriva North East
Darlington depot administrator Hayley Mason has won praise from managers for her organisational adaptability in taking on a variety of tasks.

Delivering a M.A.D. performance: Mark McKevitt, Arriva North West
Engineering manager Mark McKevitt impressed judges with his ‘can do’ attitude and determination to achieve good results at Speke depot.

The UNITE AWARD: Raymond Moss, Arriva North West & Wales
St Helens driver Raymond Moss and his colleagues have worked hard over the years to raise money for a variety of good causes.   

CONTINUALLY M.A.D. AWARD: Patience Okezie, Arriva London
Patience is a senior garage supervisor at Brixton garage and was praised for leading by example. She not only ensures that day-to-day work has driver cover, but rail replacement work too.

UNSUNG HERO: Julie Morris, Arriva Southern Counties
Kent bus driver Julie Morris bravely confronted a knife-wielding passenger on a bus full of school children last year, escorting him from the vehicle.

M.A.D. DRIVER OF THE YEAR: Neil Atherton, Arriva North West
In this category customer views were sought to find Arriva’s best bus driver. It saw Runcorn-based bus driver Neil Atherton driving away with the award for his significant customer commendations.


This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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