As the arrangements are being completed for the National Finals and Grand Finals of the 2011 RTITB Operator of the Year Competition, several finalists from 2008 have made it back into their National finals this year and have the chance of success all over again. Warehouse & Logistics News caught up with the valiant ‘re-entrants’ in this exclusive article.

Daniel Giles, who came first in the Southern England Final of the 2008 Competition and third in the Grand Final, is a Midlands and Southern England finalist; Gary Maher, another Grand Finalist last time, is a Northern England Finalist in 2011; Scott Viner, also a 2008 Grand Finalist, is a Welsh National Finalist this year: and Keith Prendergast, who made it to the Irish National Final last time, is back in there again in 2011.

Northern England Finalist Gary Maher, 36 lives in Jarrow, near South Shields, and was trained as a lift truck operator by his current employer, TNT: “Although I don’t actually operate lift trucks on a daily basis now in my job as the Foreman Vehicle Technician at the Durham Depot Vehicle Maintenance Unit,” says Gary, “I still receive the same training and support as the regular operators to ensure that when I do use a lift truck, it’s done in the correct manner.

“Last time I entered the competition I managed to get to the Grand Final, which I was totally blown away by. Watching the other guys operate and seeing how good they were, and how much of a professional attitude they had toward their jobs and skills, gave me a great sense of achievement in getting that far.

“I entered again this time because of the boost in confidence I gained from last time, and of course to see if I can actually win. Last time there were some pretty nasty tasks, but they were all do-able, so I’m looking forward to seeing what new challenges the organisers have come up with for us.”

Second time Irish National Finalist Keith Prendergast, 31, lives in Wexford. Currently in between jobs, Keith says he entered the 2011 RTITB Operator of the Year Competition “to find out if my wits are still as sharp as last time, and if I can beat my previous record and get through to the Grand Final.”

Midlands and Southern England finalist Daniel Giles, 29, lives in Outwell, Cambridgeshire and works for QV Foods in March as a senior team leader in despatch. ARC Training (UK) delivered his counterbalance refresher training. “I’m looking forward to everything in the competition,” Daniel says. “It’s a great way to put my skills to the test in a fun way.”

Welsh National Finalist Scott Viner, 39, lives in Porth in the Rhondda, South Wales. Trained as a lift truck operator by DLT Training in Bridgend, these days Scott works for The Royal Mint as a press setter, and doesn’t drive a lift truck on a regular basis, only when the appointed driver is absent.

Having got to the Grand Finals, Scott says he entered again as “it was such a good experience the last time, all the rounds were professionally staged by RTITB. I met some really nice people and have stayed in contact with a few. The Grand Finals were really impressive and it allowed all the family to be involved: my wife and I had a really good few days, and all the competitors were looked after well. I am looking forward to taking part, meeting new people and hopefully getting through to the Grand Finals again.”

What marks out of ten would our ‘operators’ award the last competition? Is there anything they think the organisers can improve this time round? Daniel says he doesn’t think much needs to be done differently, it was well organised and set up. Scott says the only downside last time was that he had to travel to Birmingham for the National Finals, but not this time, “so there is nothing else I would suggest, as overall the competition was organised very well.”

Eyes down for an exciting contest, which is set to raise awareness of the need for the highest possible lift truck operator skills over the next few months. We’ll keep you updated about how Daniel, Gary, Scott and Keith, and the other National Finalists get on in the 2011 RTITB Operator of the Year Competition, in future issues of Warehouse & Logistics News.

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