Sunshine Coast Employees Shine at State Awards

Three ComfortDelGro Corporation Australia (CDC) employees have been recognised at the 2022 Queensland Bus Industry Council (QBIC) Awards held at the weekend.

Noosa’s Renatus Zeestraten (Rene) won the Manmeet Sharma Perpetual Professional Driver Award and Kunda Park’s Aaron Pitt won the Apprentice of the Year Award, while Caloundra driver John Maddy picked up the Queensland School Services Bus Driver of the Year in TransLink’s Queensland Bus Driver of the Year Awards, which were also announced during the event.

Rene, who joined CDC in 2008 and is a recognised leader and role model amongst his Noosa-depot peers, was honoured to receive the QBIC award named after Manmeet Sharma, who lost his life in tragic circumstances while driving his bus. The award recognises drivers in the industry who have been a credit to their profession through their safe driving.

Manmeet Sharma Perpetual Professional Driver Award Rene Zeestraten
Above left: QBIC’s Manmeet Sharma Perpetual Professional Driver Award - Rene Zeestraten accepting his award. Photo by Rob Parsons @ttlgstudio

Aaron joined the team in January 2021 as a matured-aged apprentice and is described as an “absolute gentleman until he strips a bolt”. He immediately showed a natural ability to fault diagnose and differentiate between mechanical and electrical faults with ease and has been able to apply his background knowledge from working on motorcycles in his leisure time to his work in problem solving as this is a large aspect of the industry.

The winner of Translink’s School Services Bus Driver of the Year award, John, has been with CDC since 2011, stating the best part about his job as a school bus driver was the interaction with the children.

“I love getting the thank you cards at Easter and Christmas, they’re great mementoes to keep for the future. I’ve seen a lot of children grow up and go to uni and it’s great to know that I’ve put something into their lives,” he said. “I remember my bus driver as a young child, and he was wonderful. I hope that 60 years down the track these children remember me fondly, as I do my driver.”

TransLink’s Queensland School Bus Driver Of The Year John Maddy
TransLink’s Queensland School Bus Driver of the Year - John Maddy (centre) accepting his award. Photo by Rob Parsons @ttlgstudio

CDC Regional Australia Division Chief Executive Officer Tony Hopkins congratulated all three for their outstanding achievements.

“Rene has maintained an exemplary driving record throughout his 14 years with us. He goes quietly about his work, showing a preference for leading by example and is always on the front foot when it comes to raising any opportunities for improvement at his depot,” he said.

“He maintains his bus in immaculate condition and, such is the standard of his vehicle presentation, when others drive it they can be heard saying, ‘It’s Rene’s bus, we better leave it tidy!’”

Mr Hopkins said Aaron was a valued employee and asset to CDC and would achieve great things in his field.

Queensland Apprentice Of The Year Award Aaron Pitt
Above: QBIC’s Queensland Apprentice of the Year Award – Aaron Pitt with his trophy at CDC’s Kunda Park workshop.

“Aaron has demonstrated his willingness to seize and take on new challenges within his trade. His work ethic, and always striving for continual improvement in his work, and has shown the skills and maturity for leadership,” he said.

Mr Hopkins said John was a great role model for children.

“In one of the public’s comments during the voting period, someone who has been catching his bus twice a day said John had become a big part of their life and was a ‘calm and positive influence’. We are very proud of John and his achievements.”

TransLink’s Queensland Bus Driver of the Year Awards recognise the state’s top bus drivers, determined by public vote in the lead up to the night. More than 1200 nominations were received across three categories.

Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey congratulated John, who received a trophy and $1000 cash prize.

“John was very humbled just to be nominated but this award is testament to his warm, calming nature and the positive relationships he is able to build with students on his routes.

“All bus drivers across the state play a vital role in keeping Queenslanders moving and connected to work, study, essential services and each other, and have been there for us during the pandemic.

QBIC Executive Director David Tape said the awards were designed to promote standards of excellence, recognising significant achievements within the bus industry in Queensland.

“Each year our Queensland operators raise the bar about how they contribute to our beloved industry. Once again, CDC has shown us the standard of their employees, and as a result we had two drivers and a mechanic honoured on the night. Their achievements to deliver an exceptional experience for their customers should be commended and celebrated by all of us,” he said.

The gala awards were presented at the Brisbane Sofitel on Saturday, April 10, 2022.

QBIC is the peak representative body for the bus and coach industry in Queensland, and as such is the voice of private bus and coach operators in Queensland. Seven awards were given out – the Achiever of the Year Award, Supplier of the Year Award, Environmental/Innovation Award, Outstanding Contribution Award, Apprentice of the Year Award, Employer of the Year Award, and the Manmeet Sharma Perpetual Professional Driver Award.

The night was concluded by TransLink’s Queensland Bus Driver of the Year Awards: Queensland School Services Bus Driver of the Year Award, South East Queensland Bus Driver of the Year Award and Regional Queensland Bus Driver of the Year Award. Nominations were reviewed by a panel who determined three finalists in each category, which the public subsequently voted on.

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