Shropshire Star

Coach company proud to 'fly the flag for Shropshire' after awards win

A Shropshire coach company has been crowned one of the best in the UK at a prestigious awards ceremony.

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The team from Lakeside collect their award from Ardal O'Hanlon

Lakeside Coaches, in Ellesmere, was named Large Coach Operator of the Year at the 17th routeone Awards, which reward excellence in the coach and bus industry.

The coach firm's owner and director Gareth Davies said: "It's fantastic to have flown the flag for Shropshire at the awards.

"We were up against the likes of National Express so it's great for us as a Shropshire, employing local people, to win.

"We are immensely proud of the fact and we just always try to be very good at what we do, providing good, honest service."

Lakeside Coaches was set up in 1979 by Gareth's dad John Davies and has grown to have depots in Ellesmere, Shrewsbury, Wem, Telford and Malpas.

The business, whose managing director is Neal Hall, has 120 vehicles and employs 150 people locally, taking 5,000 children to school every day.

"We try to have a family ethos and employ people within the same families as well," Gareth added.

"We have staff who have been here a long time and it's nice that we can deliver a wide range of jobs, not just driving but office-based work. We try to give people a breadth of opportunities as well as providing the service we do."

Held at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole, the awards welcomed 770 guests to recognise the achievements of operators and individuals.

First Bus, A&P Travel (Tours), Passenger Plus, Ember, National Express West Midlands, Heathside Travel, Uno and Go South Coast were among the other winning operators at this year’s awards.

Individuals from First South and South West England, Greys, Stagecoach Manchester, Uno and National Express West Midlands took home prizes in the ‘people’ categories.

John Johnson, commercial director of Johnsons Coaches, a coach operator based in Henley-in Arden, Warwickshire, received this year’s Special Award – the only category nominated directly by the judges.

The black tie celebration began with entertainment from Father Ted and Death in Paradise actor and comedian Ardal O'Hanlon.

He was joined by co-host Tim Deakin, editor of routeone, to present the awards to the 2023 winners.

Helen Conway, event director at organiser Diversified Communications, said: "Yet again, the calibre of this year's awards finalists was truly exceptional. To stand out in such an innovative, creative, and dedicated industry is no small achievement, but our 2023 winners unquestionably do so.

"It was truly remarkable to witness the industry out in full force celebrating successes. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to all our winners, those highly commended, and all the finalists."