Bus technicians from National Express West Midlands have cleaned up at this year’s Society of Operations Engineers national awards.

Engineering Training Manager Lee Sandford, from Kings Norton, won the prestigious Philip Margrave Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement. This award is presented to the person who has contributed most to the promotion and development of apprentices. 

Lee has completely changed National Express West Midlands’ approach to apprenticeships. He has focussed on identifying talent among existing employees - cleaners, ancillaries, mechanical support - rather than searching externally. By giving existing staff the opportunity to apply for apprenticeships first, Lee has achieved a conversion rate of 80%.

A sparkling performance from Luke Mullally, from Bromsgrove, made him the top scorer in the Electric Driveline Technician Award. Lewis Morley, from Rushall, was the runner-up in the Bodywork Technician Award, and Brian Whetton, from Stechford, was runner-up in the Mechanical Technician Award.

National Express Engineering Director Bernie Cassidy said:

“Engineers are the unsung heroes of the bus industry - they make sure the vehicles that carry our customers are safe and comfortable. And these days, our buses are some of the most modern and complex vehicles on the road. 

“Our team were put through their paces in June at the SOE’s IRTE Skills Challenge in Bristol. They were up against rival engineers from some of the biggest operators across the bus and coach sector. They had to perform a series of very difficult electrical, mechanical and bodywork challenges - which is a fair representation of the wide range of traditional and hi-tech skills today’s engineers must have.

“Given the strength and quality of the competition, to win these awards is an outstanding achievement. All four engineers should be rightfully proud of what they have accomplished - well done!”

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