It’s not the usual dream car that the average 19 year old wishes for, but Antony Parkes from Glossop Avenue in Mansfield loves the new £90k top-of-the-range truck that his bosses at Freelance UK Ltd have just bought.
(front) Holly Porter and Paul Pearson, Antony Parkes (behind)
The 19 year old is amongst just two per cent of large truck drivers in the UK under 25 and already extremely competent in his boss’s opinion.
Antony has always been around trucks, constantly going to Freelance at weekends or during the holidays with his dad Gene, since he was eight years old. It didn’t take him long to ask if he could one day come and work at Freelance when he left school, and the team jumped at the chance to nurture his enthusiasm, once that day arrived.
He began a mechanical apprenticeship with Freelance at 16, and the company has certainly invested in its future by paying to put him through his specialist HGV driver training to earn his Class 1 licence as well as specialist licenses for Access Equipment (Cherry Pickers & Scissor Lifts). Antony is one of the youngest drivers in the UK to pass his test and according to his driving instructor as far as he is aware Antony was the youngest in the country to pass his HGV class 1 licence.
Freelance was established by Chris Porter in 2001, and specialises in moving plant and access machinery around the UK and Europe alike from its site on Boughton Industrial Estate in Ollerton.
Working with blue chip companies, the staff of 20, with its fleet of 15 vehicles and numerous trailers, bought this vehicle for Antony from Nottingham based Renault truck dealers, RH Commercial Vehicles (RHCV).
Freelance invested £90k in the new top-of-the-range Renault range T, the 2015 International Truck of the Year. Antony treats it as his pride and joy, driving it across the midlands and the length and breadth of the country.
Holly Porter, Director at Freelance UK, who runs the business with her father Chris and brother Scott, commented: “We are always looking to improve our fleet and invest in new technology. This latest purchase will allow the business to expand now that the economy has picked up.
“The truck proved fantastic value for money. However, the proof was certainly in the driving; my father came back from the test drive and told us we were buying this truck, and that we were giving it to Antony to drive.”
There is a real shortage of young people within the industry. Just two per cent of large goods vehicle (LGV) drivers in the UK are under 25, while 13 per cent of drivers are over 60. The average age of a LGV driver is 53. Many are coming up to retirement while not enough young people are coming up to replace them.
Holly commented: “Antony is already a very competent driver, who compliments our excellent team perfectly. There is a real shortage of young people within the industry. Many companies won’t invest in young talent, but it is our opinion that if we don’t invest in training young people, then our pool of drivers will just dry up. We, as a business, are willing to invest in anyone that possesses the right attitude.”
Paul Pearson, Commercial Director at RHCV, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with a company with an ethos for investing in a young workforce. We also believe in nurturing young talent and run an active apprenticeship programme.”
RHCV is an authorised selling agent for Renault Trucks and provides new and used sales, service and parts for the full Renault Trucks range as well as all-makes parts and servicing for commercial vehicles.