A BUS operator has been busy mining for gems, and it found some in Wokingham borough.
Reading Buses recently announced the winners of its GEM (Going the Extra Mile) Awards, introduced in 2020 to highlight any frontline heroes who went out of their way during the pandemic.
The company operates bus services across the borough, including the Lion 4, Leopard 3 and Tiger 7 services.
It also runs Courtney Buses services which connnect Twyford with Wokingham, as well as routes such as the Orange13/14s that run between Woodley and Reading.
More than 130 nominations were submitted by customers and employees for the GEM Awards, which saw 15 colleagues recognised for their outstanding work over the past year.
Among the winners was Sarah Defferay from Shinfield, awarded Drivers Choice for putting her colleagues first, including supporting a worker who put their dog down last year.
Winnersh resident Michelle Westwell-White, and Earley’s Owen Lovelock, also won the Working Together award for navigating furlough arrangements and making sure all employees were paid on time
Sue Stevens and Trish James, who won the Being Caring award for setting up an employee foodbank to help colleagues struggling financially.
Bus driver Gary Andrews was nominated by travellers for the Customer Choice award, for stepping in to help a scared young girl who got on the wrong bus.
Other winners included Denise Pyzzie and Babar Kiyani, who won the Emergency Response award for their swift reaction during the terrorist attack at Forbury Gardens in June last year in which three people died.
“As the roads started to close, both were put to the test in extreme conditions to keep buses running,” said a spokesperson for Reading Buses.
“Truly brilliant champions.”
In total, 12 awards were up for grabs at this year’s ceremony.
Robert Williams, Reading Buses chief executive, said the GEM Awards have shown the bus operator at its very best.
“The awards have found the best in people with many employees going the extra mile during the pandemic,” he said.
“Our very own frontline heroes have shown that our town’s award-winning bus company is still doing its very best to get people where they need to be with a bit of extra sparkle.
“When the time is right, we can’t wait to welcome more customers back on board.”