Watson goes one better, as industry leaders grab limelight

Veteran Wettenhalls driver adds another trophy to mantelpiece, as awards night recognises industry leaders Tony McGrath and Roz Shaw

Watson goes one better, as industry leaders grab limelight
Watson goes one better, as industry leaders grab limelight
May 22, 2012

A veteran truck driver has been recognised for more than five decades of accident-free driving during an awards ceremony that highlighted the contribution of some of the industry’s leading representatives.

Wettenhalls truckie William Watson walked away with the National Professional Driver of the Year Award, handed out during the 2012 National Trucking Industry Awards held as part of the Australian Trucking Convention late last week.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) cited Watson as "a true professional and elder statesman of the industry" and someone who is always willing to teach younger drivers about the industry.

"He has worked for the Wettenhalls Group for the last 37 years and has recorded more than 50 years of accident-free driving," the ATA says.

Watson won the NatRoad Professional Driver of the Year Award in 2011 and this year was recognised alongside other luminaries such as Hawkins Transport CEO Roz Shaw (pictured) and McGrath Newcastle founder Tony McGrath.

Shaw, whose business encompasses fuel haulage, a Moreton Island tourism venture, truckstops and fuel distribution, won the Trucking Industry Woman of the Year Award.

"To get this award is a very humbling experience. The transport industry is an amazing industry that’s undersold to the rest of society," she says.

McGrath, who started his business in 1983, took home the Outstanding Contribution to the Australian Trucking Industry Award for his work in organising the Newcastle and Hunter Region Road Transport Awareness Day and for raising more than $1 million for the Westpac rescue helicopter service.

McGrath is also a director of industry accreditation scheme TruckSafe and is a member of the NSW branch of the ATA. He labelled the award as a proud moment.

"The industry has been my whole life since I left school. It’s all I’ve ever done and all I’ve wanted to do," he says.

A Linfox linehaul driver, Tim Chellas, was recognised with the Highway Guardian Award for an act of bravery on the Newell Highway last year. Chellas’s truck was stopped at a temporary set of lights when he saw a B-double behind him smash into the back of a queue of cars.

The truck went off the road and started to burn, with the driver trapped inside.

"Tim immediately called emergency services and used his onboard fire extinguisher to put out the flames, which unquestionably saved the B-double driver’s life," the ATA says.

The group says Chellas was only able to do this because one month earlier he discovered the extinguisher on his truck was defective during a routine check of his vehicle.

"When he opened the bag, he found the extinguisher’s trigger mechanism had detached from the tank making it useless. He replaced the fire extinguisher and was able to save the driver’s life as a result," the ATA says.

Meanwhile, Star Track won the Training Excellence Award for its national induction training strategy. The program provides all employees with the same induction, which runs over 10 days and involves theory and practical sessions.

"All Star Track drivers are enrolled into a Certificate III of Driving Operations on the commencement of their employment and can then progress into further training over time," the ATA says.

The Port Kembla outfit Cleary Bros was recognised with the John Kelly Memorial Award for excellence in the TruckSafe program. The company, which operates a fleet of more than 150 heavy duty trucks servicing the construction sector, has been a part of the program since 1998.

The ATA says the Don Watson Memorial Award, which highlight’s conspicuous achievement in furthering the industry’s objectives, was not handed out because the recipient could not attend the awards ceremony.

The ATA says the winner will be announced later this year when the presentation can occur.

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