With the RTITB Operator of the Year 2011 Grand Final just weeks away, each of the 10 competitors will be filled with excitement, anticipation and in some cases, even nerves. One person in particular who will understand exactly how each finalist is feeling is Kenneth Saward, 2008 Operator of the Year Champion, who has recently been chosen as one of the Grand Final judges.
Back in 2008, RTITB launched the first ever Operator of the Year competition which not only allowed operators from across the UK and Ireland to try their hand at winning the title and a brand new car, but also acknowledged the hard work of operators and trainers alike within the industry. Ken, who had worked as an operator for 5 years at the time of the competition, showed great aptitude across 8 tests on his way to being declared the winner. When asked how he felt back in 2008, Ken said: ‘I was very nervous. There was a lot of excitement and the feeling of not knowing what to expect, but I was ready and waiting. I was also trying to get in some driving practice in case I won the car!’
The competition has evolved since 2008, becoming bigger, better and guaranteed to identify RTITB as a strong brand within the transport training industry. Ken has been fortunate enough to have not only been involved in the competition from its inception, but has also been a part of the 2011 event. When asked how he felt about the impending final, to be held at the RTITB Headquarters in Telford, Shropshire, Ken said: ‘I’m really excited for the final. I was able to judge the National Finals which were a lot of fun, it’s just a shame that I can’t compete myself!’
Having already won the coveted title and grand prize, the 10 grand finalists may look to Ken for some words of wisdom regarding how to win. However, when asked if he had any advice for the competitors Ken said: ‘It’s difficult to give advice as I’m a judge. However, I would say to them to enjoy the day and simply operate the lift truck how you were taught to. Hopefully the competitors have settled their nerves but overall, it’s a fantastic weekend they have ahead of themselves.’
Since its launch in November 2010 at the IMHX Birmingham, the competition has been widely acknowledged as an innovative and fun way in which to help set standards within the materials handling industry. Ken completely agrees with this, stating: ‘Without a doubt I think the competition is great for the industry. It gives drivers recognition for what they do and also gives the people who have trained them a much deserved boost. I just wish that there were more competitions like it.’
The Grand Final, to be held on Friday 16th September, is open to the public who can register their attendance via the RTITB website: www.rtitb.co.uk/fltcompetition. Attendees will have a chance to watch all 10 Grand Finalists compete for the title, meet the RTITB team and enjoy the selection of entertainment and refreshments that will be offered throughout the day.