Sunshine and Showers

Sunshine and Showers

max temp: 9°C

min temp: 4°C


If the north wind doth blow Gemma will swap her office for a gritter cab!

PUBLISHED: 11:29 08 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:13 08 November 2018

Gemma Allard is training to qualify as a gritter driver. Picture: SUFFOLK HIGHWAYS

Gemma Allard is training to qualify as a gritter driver. Picture: SUFFOLK HIGHWAYS


Her day-job is telling the world what Suffolk Highways is up to – keeping the county’s roads moving.

But Gemma Allard couldn’t resist the opportunity to drive something other than her desk – and now she’s hoping to be the only female gritter driver on the county’s roads this winter.

The 26-year-old from Felixstowe has just passed her HGV test but still needs to complete specialist training before she can get behind the wheel of a gritter on her own.

Taking one of these vehicles out requires special skills – by the sheer nature of the job it has to be driven over untreated snow and ice before any other vehicles take advantage of the grit on the road.

And the job will require some early starts – to ensure roads are clear for rush-hour traffic the gritters have to be out during the early hours of the morning.

That’s not a prospect that worries Gemma: “I like early starts. Getting up in the small hours doesn’t worry me. I love being in the lorries.

“I’ve been a navigator before, but the new lorries have full sat-nav so you don’t need a second person in the cab – so I decided to train as a driver.

“I’ve got the HGV licence, but I still need to do a winter maintenance course. There will be another experienced driver out with me as I learn what I’m doing – but I hope to be able to go out on my own before the end of the winter season.”

Gemma will be the only female driver in the team this year although there have been other women drivers behind the wheel of the gritter lorries in Suffolk in the past.

Mary Evans, cabinet member responsible for highways, said: “It’s fantastic that such a young, female colleague within Suffolk Highways is supporting our gritting season this year by becoming a driver.

“Gemma is a key member of Suffolk Highways’ communications team and has previously supported the winter season in a back office capacity through communications and navigation of drivers.

“This year she has taken that support to the next level and passed her HGV test with the intention of driving a gritting lorry and gritting the roads to keep the county moving.

“I am very proud of Gemma and her achievement and I hope this encourages other women to consider how they could support highways maintenance in future, despite this historically being a very male-dominated profession.”

A 16-year-old suffered life-threatening injuries after being stabbed in the car park of a McDonald’s restaurant in Ipswich during a violent fight in front of shocked members of the public, it has been alleged.

Christmas has arrived in the Ipswich high street with festive displays in many windows - we find out what is selling fast and how sales are comparing to last year.

It is a swanky diner which brings a touch of American culture to the streets of Ipswich.

An ex-Ipswich Town player who worked with asbestos before becoming a professional footballer died of industrial disease, an inquest heard.

An Ipswich man who drove with no headlights after drinking eight cans of lager at a barbecue has been handed a suspended jail sentence.

Have you started writing your Christmas cards and packing up parcels yet, or haven’t you even started to think about it yet? Either way, you won’t want to miss the last posting dates.

Fears have been raised that targeting drug dealing hotspots in Ipswich might simply be moving the problem onto different streets and neighbourhoods.

Black Friday bargains are already appearing in shops and online - but how can you avoid falling for scams and bogus offers

Author and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz visited Woodbridge to give a talk at Seckford Hall about his life and works. We caught up with him to talk about his home in Orford, his love for Suffolk and how he plans to spend eternity in the county.

Ipswich Citizens Advice revealed the shocking case of the mother, who had depression and anxiety after giving birth, in a bid to call for new laws to crack down on debt collectors who flout the rules.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Ipswich Star daily newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24