National Express extends support for soldiers

A Birmingham bus driver met a government defence minister last week in Whitehall to pledge National Express West Midlands’ continuing support for the UK’s armed forces. 

Neil Talbot drives buses from National Express West Midlands’ Perry Barr garage. He’s been a reservist with Wolverhampton’s Mercia Corps for 29 years. He has done tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and a UN tour in Cyprus.

He went down to London on 13 March 2018 to attend the Armed Forces Covenant signing ceremony at Horse Guards Parade with National Express West Midlands Managing Director Tom Stables and the Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP - Minister for Defence People and Veterans.

The Armed Forces Covenant is a formal promise to demonstrate an organisation’s support for the armed services. Five years ago, National Express was the first company in the UK to sign up. The transport operator has now expanded its promise with new ways of supporting veterans, the armed forces and their families.

The package of new pledges will:

  • Offer guaranteed interviews to service leavers for all National Express roles in the UK
  • Include spouses and families of service leavers in its guaranteed interview scheme
  • Provide ten days’ extra leave for staff in the Reserve Forces
  • Extend its existing discount of 60% on coach travel for serving personnel to include group bookings
  • Offer discounted bus travel in the West Midlands
  • Offer free bus travel to families visiting soldiers at the Military Hospital at the QE in Birmingham and to volunteers on Remembrance Sunday

Neil said:

“It was such a proud day for me - to be representing both National Express West Midlands and the Mercia Corps in front of the minister.

“As a reservist, it’s really important to work for a company that understands how to give practical support to the armed forces. It’s great that National Express are giving ten days’ extra leave to staff in the Reserves - it makes a big difference to us.”

Tom Stables, Managing Director of National Express West Midlands, added:

“We’re very proud to have been the first company to sign the Armed Forces Covenant. I’m delighted that we are now signing up to an even greater commitment. 

“Armed forces personnel and their families do a great service to this country and it’s right that big companies like ours do what we can to support them.”

National Express employs over 40 former forces personnel and reservists in various roles - drivers, health and safety officers, engineers and customer service advisors. These staff, ranking from private up to major, came from across the armed forces, including the Royal Marines, Royal Signals, Royal Engineers, RAF, Navy and the Gurkha regiment.

In the five years since the first Covenant was signed, more than 100,000 serving and former forces personnel have taken advantage of discounted coach travel through the Defence Discount Scheme, giving them a total saving of more than a million pounds.

The UK’s leading coach provider has also provided £60,000 worth of free travel to thousands of people using The British Legion’s Short Break Centres and raised tens of thousands of pounds for Armed Forces related charities, including over £30,000 via online donations from its customers when buying tickets for the Royal British Legion.

Published 19th March 2018