In the second of our series of blogs celebrating women who work in the driving industry, we meet Holly Bowers from Staffordshire.
At only 20, Holly became the youngest woman to qualify as a large goods vehicle (LGV) driver. She told us how she got there and what it’s like being a female lorry driver.
So, Holly, what made you want to become a lorry driver?
To be honest, I never in a million years thought I would become a lorry driver. I used to work with racehorses as a stable hand and work rider. Sadly, I was thrown from a horse in February 2016 and shattered my ankle.
I was unable to ride horses again.
After six months’ recovery I found myself with no job to go into. Then, as I already had my forklift licence from a few years back, my dad kindly offered me work at the family firm, unloading pallets.
Can you tell us how you got your licences and how long you’ve been driving?
I started off doing a few deliveries in the 3.5 tonne truck, which I absolutely loved! That led me to go for my category C (rigid lorry) licence in October 2016. Then my dad persuaded me to go for my C+E (articulated lorry) licence in December. The size of the lorry was a little daunting at first, but after about 30 minutes of driving the
artic I loved it!
So, I’ve been a lorry driver for about three months.
How do you find being a woman in this profession?
I find that I get a lot of attention from the other drivers when I get to delivery points. It’s such a male-oriented profession that they’re often surprised to see me emerging from the cab! I get lots of praise and congratulations on my achievement.
Have attitudes towards you changed since you started? If so, how?
Well, I’ve only been doing this for a few months, so I haven’t really seen any changes. A lot of people I meet are impressed to see a female driver and do respect me for it. If anything, I tend to get preferential treatment at delivery points. For example, I tend to queue-jump a lot of the time, ha ha!
What’s the best thing about your job?
I love being the biggest vehicle on the road. And I really enjoy meeting and speaking to new people.
Also, I work with my family. My older sister Kate (22) works for the family firm, then of course there’s my dad. In fact, Kate and I are the third generation of LGV drivers, as our Grandad, William, started this business 27 years ago.
How do you think we can encourage more women into commercial driving?
Men tend to think that they’re the better sex when it comes to driving. I beg to differ. We women need to get together and prove them wrong!
Also, I think articles like this will help. Young women need to see other young women succeeding in this industry to know that it’s a possibility. Driving a lorry isn’t just for Yorkie-chomping middle-aged men. That’s just a stereotype which Kate and I – and other women in commercial driving – are smashing to bits.
If you’re interested in becoming an LGV driver, visit GOV.UK, where it explains how to get your licence.
And here’s some food for thought about LGV drivers, which may spur you on to challenge that stereotype:
- 92 percent of the 400,000 people holding an LGV licence are men.
- More than 60 percent of LGV drivers are aged 45 years or over (compared with 35 percent in the general working-age population).
- About 1 percent of LGV drivers are under 25.
- In 2010, only 3 percent of the road-haulage workforce in England was from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background.
(Source: Transport Committee)
You can watch Holly in action here when she was interviewed by BBC Midland Today News in February 2017
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