Chris is Flying the Flag for our Forces

28 Jun 2018

Published in: Member News

Chris Butt in cab 2A Black Country bus driver is flying the flag for the nation's armed forces by wearing his military uniform to work on Reserves Day (Wednesday 27 June).

Chris Butt drives National Express West Midlands buses out of Dudley's Pensnett garage. He's also a reservist for the Kingswinford Royal Logistics Corps.

The Birmingham-based bus operator called on its reservist staff to don their uniforms on Reserves Day to show the company's support for the men and women who serve this country. So on Wednesday Chris proudly swapped his bus driver's shirt and tie for his army working dress.

National Express West Midlands' Pensnett garage manager, Phil Bowen, said: "We are very proud of Chris and his dedication to serving his country. We are delighted that he is wearing his uniform to work today to show his support for the nation's reservists. The whole team here is 100% behind him."

Tom Stables, Managing Director, National Express UK said: "We are proud supporters of our brave armed forces so Reserves and Armed Forces Day are the perfect opportunity for us to show our support and gratitude to them.

"We are encouraging our reservists to wear their uniforms to work and getting behind the national effort to show our fighting men and women what they mean to us on Armed Forces Day. I hope as many other companies as possible around the land will be doing the same."

National Express's coach division was the first UK company to sign up to the Corporate Covenant five years ago. This year it has extended its promise for a further five years with new pledges that cover both the UK coach and bus businesses.

Major General Ranald Munro CBE TD VR, Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Reserves and Cadets), said: "Today is a special day in the Defence calendar. Reserves Day allows us to celebrate and thank Reservists and their employers for their immense contribution.

"Reservists are key to the Defence of our nation. They are an integral part of our Armed Forces. They sacrifice their spare time to train so as to be able to support the Regular Forces on a wide range of tasks, including at times of crisis at home and abroad. In today's complex and unpredictable global security environment they ensure the nation can remain resilient against a myriad of threats.

"Every organisation, big or small, can make a difference in supporting Reserve service. I invite all businesses and organisations to join the 2500 other employers who have made the Armed Forces Covenant a priority and are standing firmly behind our Reservists."

The package of new pledges:

  • Offer guaranteed interviews to service leavers for all National Express roles across Coach and Bus
  • 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 a discount for bus travel on its West Midlands network
  • Offer free bus travel to families visiting soldiers at the Military Hospital at the QE in Birmingham and to volunteers on Remembrance Sunday.

The company already employs over 40 former forces personnel and reservists in a variety of roles including drivers, health and safety officers, bus engineers and customer service advisors. These personnel come from roles from all over the armed forces, including Royal Marines, Royal Signals, Royal Engineers, RAF, Navy, Gurkhas – and they rank from private all the way up to major.

In the five years since the first Covenant was signed, more than 116,000 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.

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