A BUS driver became the first in his depot to lift an award in a regional competition.
Hartlepool bus driver James Leslie came third in the regional Bus Driver of the Year competition run by Stagecoach North East.
He was up against more than 1,600 bus drivers in the competition which recognises outstanding and exceptional driving across all six depots in the North-East.
James, who is the first driver from the Hartlepool bus depot to gain a place in any of the first three positions in the competition, also celebrated 40 years’ service with the firm earlier this year.
To be eligible for the award, members of staff must take part in a driving test at the Stagecoach North East driving school, with the goal being to achieve as few points as possible.
James said: “I’m really pleased with my award. This year I also celebrated my 40 years service with Stagecoach North East so it’s a double celebration for me.
“Buses are in my blood, though I can’t take all the credit for the award as Stagecoach has always ensured I’m up to date with my driving skills through training – really we’re all exceptional drivers due to this.
“Hartlepool is a wonderful place to drive, it’s a community. For many passengers I drove them to school every week and now I’m doing the same for their children – it’s a real pleasure.”
Mike Watson, operations director, said: “We are extremely proud of all of our drivers and every year we recognise the very best we have through our Bus Driver of the Year awards.
“Our drivers are a credit to the training they have received, which spans their entire careers with us to ensure they are providing the best service possible for our customers.”