Christmas is a busy time for the road haulage industry and that’s why staff at Onroute Truckstops make an extra effort to look after drivers over this period. As well as Christmas trees and decorations to make the sites feel cheerful and festive, they also gear up to serve hundreds of Christmas dinners to hungry drivers.
“We love Christmas,” says Derrick Hemingsley, Manager at Junction 29, one of Onroute Truckstop’s sites near Chesterfield. “Our staff really enjoy getting into the spirit and spreading some goodwill, making things special for drivers. We know how hard lorry drivers work to transport goods around the country, especially at Christmas, and it’s a nice way to thank them for their hard work and dedication. Commerce would literally grind to a halt without them!”
Delivering the goods
He’s right of course. Haulage is crucial to keeping the country running, not just at Christmas, but all year round. There’s a shortage of qualified HGV drivers in the UK and the Road Haulage Association says one way of encouraging more new drivers into the industry would be to provide improved overnight facilities. As a key service provider to drivers working in the industry, Onroute Truckstops is keen to play its part.
In the UK, Onroute Truckstops is developing a network of truck stops across the country – good value, high quality sites where drivers can rest, refresh, and refuel, before continuing their journey. It currently has sites in Ulceby (near Immingham), Swindon, Avonmouth (near Bristol) and Chesterfield. As well as 24/7, pay-at-the-pump, HGV refuelling, their truck stops provide safe and secure parking for drivers and their vehicles. Their on-site cafes serve a variety of tasty, freshly-cooked food so drivers can enjoy a healthy meal at the end of a long-days shift – including free fresh fruit. They also provide clean, well-maintained washrooms, laundry facilities and a well-stocked shop with useful items a driver might need on the road.
“The build up to Christmas can be particularly stressful for drivers, with shorter days and increased chances of poor driving conditions,” comments David Hatherell, Business Development Manager for Onroute Truckstops. “They also often work extra shifts, meaning more time spent away from their families. We try and make things as easy and comfortable as possible, providing a safe, friendly space where they can rest and relax, have a chat, and soak up some festive cheer.
“We regularly survey drivers, to find out what’s important to them, and always listen to their feedback. Top of their list is secure overnight parking and we have introduced overnight patrols so drivers can get a good night’s sleep knowing someone is keeping watch. We’ve also recently revoked our decision to be cashless in response to driver comments and are now taking cash again.
“Our goal is to provide good quality, well-maintained facilities at all of our truck stops and future plans include building new washroom facilities at Swindon and refurbishing the ones at J29 in 2024.”
We know how hard drivers work
“We really know how hard drivers work,” comments Kate Williams, Manager at Avon Lodge in Avonmouth. “Two of our managers are married to drivers, so we have first-hand experience of the issues they often have to contend with, including unexpected delays or breakdowns that might impact Christmas plans. Many are away from home four nights a week, some for weeks at a time, so we do all we can to create a festive atmosphere and make our Truckstop cafes extra welcoming and cosy at this time of year.”
“It wouldn’t be Christmas without the festive food,” adds Angela Malinson, manager of Ulceby Truckstop. “All our truckstops are serving Christmas dinners throughout December, with turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, veg and all the trimmings (we have a vegetarian option) followed by home-made Christmas pudding with custard or whipped cream. Our mince pies and seasonal coffees are also very popular.”
Christmas Jumper Day
Onroute Truckstops is also supporting Save the Children by taking part in the charity’s Christmas Jumper Day fundraiser. “Who doesn’t love an opportunity to wear a Christmas jumper?” jokes Colin Humby, Manager at Swindon Truckstop. “We’ll all be wearing ours and donating to make the world ‘better with a sweater,’ and we find the drivers are always very generous and supportive as well.”
Thank you drivers
So, when we open our presents with friends and family over Christmas, let’s spare a thought for the lorry drivers who distribute goods around the country and beyond. They will definitely have played a part in getting those gifts into the shops or distribution centres so that they could be found, bought, wrapped and, finally, handed to you.