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A right Royal award for Portsoy driver's loyal service

By David Porter

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HGV driver: John Stephen of Barclays Transport, Portsoy has recently been recognised by The Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland for his 42 years loyal service with the Banffshire based, livestock and bulk haulage contractor.

At a special ceremony in early July, at Hilton hall near Banff, John was presented with a 40-year, long service certificate and gold medal by Chris Shepherd, director of the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland.

John Henry Stephen was born in Mulben near Keith and attended the local school.

After leaving education, John’s first job was at the Auchroisk Distillery in Mulben.

He spent some time in agricultural contracting before being given an HGV driving course as a 21st birthday present from his parents.

Having passed the class one test in Aberdeen during August 1979, John was one of 14 applicants for a job at the then, Peter G Barclay fleet in Portsoy.

In those days the business was managed by George Davidson, uncle to the current owner Ronald Davidson, who now runs the company with his sister, Elma.

After three interviews, John joined the well-known livestock transporters in October 1979.

“John initially saw the job as temporary,” reports Ronald Davidson adding, “His goal back then was to drive a tanker for one of the distilleries. "However, he must have settled to our workloads, as 42 years later he’s still here and doing a great job.

"John is well-liked by our customers and always puts the welfare of livestock at the top of his priorities.

"He has a calm approach when handling animals and they seem to respond to him well.”

John started off driving a Seddon Atkinson six wheeled rigid livestock float before moving to his first articulated combination, headed up by a Leyland Marathon.

Despite having driven a wide selection of DAF Trucks over the years, John’s personal favourite lorry remains a 1980s Renault R310 which he says, “was unparalleled for cab comfort.”

However, he does acknowledge the significant technological advances in commercial vehicle technologies since then and his current DAF XF530 with a manual ZF 16 speed gearbox, proves a useful steed for a week’s work.

At 63 years’ young, John intends to continue driving at Barclays Transport for as long as possible.

“With the nationwide shortage of lorry drivers currently dominating the news, it’s refreshing to report on story of long, loyal service,” notes Ronald. “We’re lucky to have a hard-working team here, many of whom have clocked up years of faithful service.

"John Stephen has played a key part in our success over the last four decades and we’re extremely grateful for his continuing presence."

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