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Life on the front line: John Hannigan, Britannia Sandersteads

Jun 27, 2011
John Hannigan: 15 years behind the wheel for Britannia Sandersteads.

15 years behind the wheel

Senior Foreman & European Road Train Driver John Hannigan was recently recognised by his company, Britannia Sandersteads, for his long, unblemished service having worked with the company for over 15 years.  Today he is very much at home in his Scania with its drawbar trailer on long European trips.

He first joined the company in 1993 as a part-time driver of 7.5 tonne vehicles.  When he joined the company full-time 15 years ago Britannia Sandersteads put John through his HGV training and they have not looked back since.

John’s first European trip was to Bordeaux 10 years ago.  Today he spends most of his time on European work. “Somehow it just gets into your blood,” he explained. “I really enjoy the freedom.  It’s like being your own boss.  Out and about all the time, meeting new people and mixing with different cultures.” Often John is away for two weeks at a time, sometimes more. If a load comes up while he’s away, he might end up doing a second trip straight away and staying away for another fortnight. He doesn’t complain: he enjoys it.

“He has attended and passed every training and packing course available to him and has proved to be a highly valuable asset to the company and role model for some of the younger staff,” said Stuart Almandras, Company Director.

In the years that John has been travelling to and through France he’s seen many changes but he says the biggest one is the speed traps which are all over the place. “When you are driving a fully loaded drawbar downhill you really have to watch your speed.”

John also said that the French have a different interpretation of the drivers’ hours regulations than the rest of Europe. Instead of a nine-hour day meaning two periods of 4.5 hours with a 45 min break, the French want drivers to do three periods of three hours with a one-hour break between each. “If you don’t comply they can’t prosecute but they’ll find something to do you for.  It’s best to stick to their rules.”

Asked what he enjoyed most about his job, John said that it’s keeping the customers happy that matters most.  “I enjoy a job well done,” he said. “Most people are very nervous when they are moving. It’s good to do the job the way they want it done.”

In recognition of his exemplary service, Stuart Almandras presented John with a Swiss time piece, “Not that John has ever had a problem with punctuality,” said Stuart.  He was also awarded an extra week’s annual leave a year.  

Photo:  John Hannigan (right) and Stuart Almandras of Britannia Sandersteads

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