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Story by: TOM JACKSON, Editorial Content Manager
Friday, January 27, 2012
THEY are a growing force in a male-dominated profession. And their club - run by Fenland’s ‘Mothertrucker’ - is the subject of a TV show next week.
Mothertruckers will meet some queens of the road who are members of Lady Truck Drivers UK, which was formed two years ago by the owner of a Fenland LGV training firm.
Wendy Priestley runs Priestley LGV, based at Sutton St James, and started the club because there was no support group for female drivers. She teamed up with retired trucker Elizabeth Waters and Lady Truck Drivers UK was born.
Mrs Priestley, who is nicknamed the Mothertrucker by her colleagues, said: “I had a phone call out of the blue from Orion TV, telling me it wanted to put the group on the TV. I had received similar calls in the past that have never come to anything so I didn’t expect much.
“But this call was from the producer - and the rest is history.”
THE programme follows several female truckers and explores their motivation for joining the profession.
They include former ballerina turned trucker Emma who, plagued by injury, is torn between her new career as a freelance lorry driver and her desire to get back into dancing.
The show also meets glamorous trainee Ella as she learns, and hopefully passes, her HGV2 test and Jill Noble who was out driving her lorry on Christmas Day supplying shops.
Ex-soldier and transsexual Vikki reveals her struggle for acceptance as one of the girls within a male-dominated industry.
And Wendy explains why she puts her time into training and mentoring new female drivers and spreading the word that trucking can be a great career for women up and down the land.
There are more than half a million lorry drivers in the UK but just two per cent of them are female - and recent figures suggest that the UK truck driver shortage is about to reach crisis point.
Mothertruckers meets some of the women - all members of the club - who have bucked the trend and joined the industry.
Mrs Priestley said: “We had a whale of a time filming and would love it to develop into a series.”
The club attracted more than 60 members nationwide in its first 12 months and has continued to grow since. The International Lady Truck Drivers Association has also been launched and has members from Spain, Italy and Slovenia.
WENDY Priestley has trained drivers for 28 years and has been a qualified driver for more than 20 years.
While working for a training body she met Les who worked for another firm. They married and moved from north London to Sutton St James to form Priestley LGV.
She has also written three books called Mothertrucker - Starting Out, Mothertrucker - Driving On and Mothertrucker - Journey’s End. Based on her experiences, the series follows a young woman who realises her dream to become a truck driver despite discouragement.
Mrs Priestley said: “I’m known as the Mothertrucker because when I started I was a mum to two young children. I also make sure the girls and my former students are always ok - and as a result the girls are known as my trucklings.”
She is now hoping to organise a national drive to attract more women to take up trucking.
Mrs Priestley said: “We are not trying to out-do the men and we are not looking for equality because we already have it in the trucking world.
“If they want to dress in rigger boots that’s fine. If they don’t want to be seen out without their Chanel No.5 that’s fine too.
“Nobody gets excited over male nurses so why should they think differently about lady truck drivers?”
• Mothertruckers airs on Thursday February 9 on Channel 4 at 10pm.