Gist driver Gillian Brooks has been named Microlise Driver of the Year Award for 2020, beating more than 225,000 other UK drivers and becoming the first female driver to win this prestigious award.
Gillian, who has more than 30 years’ experience as an HGV driver, has been with Gist for around two-and-a-half years based at its Hemel Hempstead site.
At the age of twenty-five, Gillian was asked by her mother what she wanted to do and her response was ‘to drive trucks.’ Her Mum used her life savings and paid for Gillian to sit and pass her HGV and PSV licenses at a time when female drivers were virtually unheard.
Since then Gillian has enjoyed a great driving career and works to encourage more women into the business.
Gillian is also winner of the Long Distance category in this year’s awards which features drivers who regularly undertake journeys of more than 60,000 miles per year.
Fellow Gist driver John Bushby was also honoured in the awards, winning the HGV Hero category.
John, who has 44 years’ experience as a driver, was travelling back to Gist’s Hemel Hempstead depot in the nearside lane behind a European left-hand-drive lorry. This trailer started reacting very violently and, at the same time, a large object came hurtling towards John from underneath the vehicle. John made a split-second decision. He knew he couldn’t move to the left or to the right so braced himself for a collision while releasing and reapplying the brake to reduce impact. After the crash, John realised the object that hit him was a car and immediately called the emergency services.
Dash cam footage later revealed that the lorry in front of John started to pull out into the middle lane hitting a car which was in its blind spot, causing it to spin in front of the truck, along its nearside to then be crushed by the tractor unit.
John’s life-saving actions were also featured on the BBC’s Caught on Camera programme earlier this year.
Michael Chambers, Gist Chief Executive, said: “Gillian and John’s awards recognise their professionalism, technical driving skill and commitment to safety – everything we expect from our drivers. Congratulations to them both.”