Ipswich bus drivers shine through

NOT content with thumping the Canaries in the Championship, Ipswich are continuing to trounce the old enemy- although now it is in the bus stakes.Ipswich's bus drivers contributed to Norwich's current poor run of form by beating their East Anglian counterparts as six of the region's finest went head to head in a driving challenge.

Neil Puffett

NOT content with thumping the Canaries in the Championship, Ipswich are continuing to trounce the old enemy- although now it is in the bus stakes.

Ipswich's bus drivers contributed to Norwich's current poor run of form by beating their East Anglian counterparts as six of the region's finest went head to head in a driving challenge.

The regional heat of First Eastern Counties' Bus Driver of the Year competition saw Ipswich duo Leon Wells and colleague Robert Smith, 56, take first and second spots respectively.

All six drivers were first asked 20 questions on the Highway Code and on basic maintenance, before taking part in a series of manoeuvring tests as part of the driving section.

Thirty-two-year-old Mr Wells won for the third year in a row.

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Mr Wells said: “I don't know what the secret of my success is, but winning it gets sweeter every year.”

The contestants had made it through to the final six by coming through an on-the-job assessment which also included finding out how good their customer care was.

When they arrived at the specially laid out course they were tested on reverse manoeuvring, bus stop manoeuvres, right and left hand turns and other driving techniques.

Penalty points were awarded and the aim was to finish with the least amount of points.

Sally Beedon, training and development manager for First, said: “All First drivers are committed to providing safe transport for their passengers. This competition is a fantastic way for them to showcase their knowledge and driving skills.”

Kevin Clark, First's learning and development co-ordinator, said: “I do this every year and standards are very high.”

The top three placed winners won vouchers worth £125, £75 and £25 respectively and go forward to the national grand final in Blackpool on September 6.

Glen Morris from Cobholm, near Norwich took third.

The other three competitors in the last six were Jonathan Whitaker, 24, Jim Bowman, 41, both from King's Lynn, and Dean Newton, 46, of Wymondham, Norfolk.

Have you triumphed over a Norwich rival? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk