Palletforce member John Jempson & Son has once again excelled at a prestigious contest to test the skills of some of the UK’s top HGV drivers.

The British Gypsum Driver of the Year Competition brings together 10 finalists from British Gypsum’s three third-party logistics providers, with each driver put through their paces in a series of tests designed to show not only their driving skills, but their mechanical, technological and theoretical knowledge.

The event, held at Palletforce’s new SuperHub in Burton upon Trent, pitched the team from Jempsons against drivers from DHL and Ceva.

At the end of a gruelling day the Rye-based haulier – which celebrated its 150th anniversary last year – drove off with the Team of the Year award, with the Most Improved Driver award presented to Tom Goodsell.

Jempsons managing director Mark Chamberlain said: “To come away with two of the three available awards is a fantastic achievement for us, and deserved recognition of how seriously our drivers take their job.

“We are particularly delighted with Tom’s success, because we have trained him through C2 to C1 qualifications. Two years ago, our driver Julian Spencer won this award and went on to win Driver of the Year in 2017, and hopefully Tom can go on and repeat this achievement.”

The final itself was the culmination of a series of regional qualifying heats featuring around 350 drivers. Tasks included a driving assessment on open roads, manoeuvring their vehicle through a set course, coupling and uncoupling, hazard perception and vehicle defect identification.

Michael Conroy, chief executive of Palletforce said: “We are always delighted to host this prestigious event, but particularly this year as it has benefitted from the magnificent facilities of our new SuperHub here in Burton.

“This is an initiative that encourages excellence, safety and promotes skills development in all areas of HGV driving, and we would like to congratulate Jempsons on their success. To win both Team of the Year and Most Improved Driver is deserved recognition both for the efforts Steve, Tom and the team have put in over the last 12 months, and also the ongoing programme of driver improvement implemented by Jempsons and British Gypsum.”

Drivers were also required to display mastery of British Gypsum’s “Epod” tracking system, executing a scripted scenario using a hand-held terminal.

British Gypsum’s distribution improvement manager Kirk Ennis said: “This annual event is all about acknowledging the contribution our drivers and support teams make in delivering a safe and sustainable transport network.

“The final is the culmination of regular development sessions that the driving workforce undergo, which in turn supports the targeting of a Zero Harm safe working environment. We would like to congratulate Jempsons for their success in another highly competitive field this year.”

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