The founder of one of the UK’s largest pallet networks has described two sisters who became the third generation of their family to qualify as HGV drivers as "role models who are breaking both stereotypical moulds and glass ceilings in their wake".
Nigel Parkes was commenting upon Holly and Kate Bowers, who have followed dad Martyn and grandad William in becoming HGV drivers for TLP Group, which is part of the Pallet-Track network.
“This is a great family success story from a traditional family firm and goes to the heart of issues facing the supply chain. The industry needs more young people like Holly and Kate to come forward as drivers. They are role models for the next generation breaking records, stereotypical moulds and glass ceilings in their wake,” said Parkes.
“With the average age of HGV drivers being over 50, the girls are a breath of fresh air to an industry struggling to recruit qualified drivers. It is a national problem which needs to be solved because it is having an impact on the price of goods and services if businesses have to use agency drivers who are by their nature more expensive,” he added.
Holly, 20 from Talke, Newcastle under Lyme, is believed to be one of the youngest women to ever obtain a class one licence, allowing her to drive the heaviest goods vehicles.
Apart from a breaking through the glass ceiling, TLP director and the girl’s father Martyn Bowers, said the move made perfect business sense: “One of the reasons I got the girls to take the class 1 licence was purely selfish. Pallet–Track sets the industry benchmark as far as I am concerned. It has an excellent reputation for delivering every pallet on time and in excellent condition, so for me to maintain that standard I needed to resource for the peaks and troughs of pallet volumes.
Martyn, 46, who is the son of TLP’s founder William Bowers, and has been an HGV driver for 25 years, added: “We now have a “family” of class 1 drivers that can “at the drop of the hat” respond to the Pallet-Track requirements.”
Holly had previously worked as a racehorse trainer, but when she was thrown from her mount and shattered her ankle last July, she was told she was never be able to ride again.
She then decided to follow her older sister Kate into the family business, initially obtaining her forklift and scissor lift licences, and now becoming an HGV driver.
Holly said: “I was so chuffed and surprised to pass my class one. It was difficult. I wanted to work with racehorses but after the bad accident, I couldn't ride again. So my dad offered me this job, and I passed my class one last month."
Kate, aged 22, from Smallthorne, obtained her class one licence last July. She said: “I was surprised to get my class one licence as I found it difficult to get my class two, but I feel very happy about it. I started at TLP when I was in college, washing the trucks. Then I became full-time. I think it's good because it's a small family business."
Grandad William, who founded Newcastle-based distribution company 27 years ago, says Holly is a 'natural' lorry driver. The 72-year-old, from Newcastle, said: “One of the things that excites me is that Holly did not join us until July. She loved her job training racehorses. But she has passed her licences in a very short space of time – she's a natural."