After passing her GCSEs, Kelly went on to Rodbaston College to take a two year Level 3 agricultural course with a view to working full time at Cedars Farm. Kelly recalls: “Farming is in my blood and I really wanted to balance learning with the practical work on the farm. I love tractors, the bigger the better! I have been driving them on our land for several years now. I decided last July that I wanted to train to be able to drive trucks as I really want to be out on the road, perhaps working for a haulage company, so I linked up with Dulson Training in Shrewsbury.”
At Dulson Training Kelly made her first nervous steps to gaining her qualifications in a DAF LF rigid truck supplied by Greenhous Commercials. “The difference to a tractor was significant,” said Kelly. “The tractor has a long bonnet whereas the truck drops off at the front. It also felt so wide and the speed was much greater than I had experienced from a tractor, where 35 mph is the norm.
“The DAF LF was really comfortable and with its automatic gearbox it was easy and smooth to drive, compared with other automatics I have driven since. I loved the experience and was keen to progress on to the articulated truck. We used the DAF CF and it felt like a dream to be in the cab and driving such a big vehicle on the roads around Shrewsbury. I was reluctant to give the keys back to the instructor at the end of the lesson! Reversing didn’t phase me as I already had experience of reversing tractors with trailers and tankers attached.”
Kelly praised the trainers at Dulson who she feels gave her the very best preparation for the HGV testing in which she passed every part with flying colours. “The staff at Dulson Training were very well organised, keeping me informed of the dates for my training and the follow up courses for my CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence)”, added Kelly.
Her training spanned the period July to October and in that time she passed her HGV LGV Class 1 and 2 trucks and her CPC qualification, meaning she was available to drive trucks on the road. Dulson Training have a fleet of DAF trucks from Greenhous Commercials and also offer other training including car and trailer, minibus, coach and bus.
Kelly has been frustrated by the claims that there is a shortage of HGV drivers in the UK, but she has not found it easy to get work, wondering if there is a stigma attached to being female in a male dominated industry. She added: “A lot of places require experience, but you can’t gain experience without people giving you the chance to go out to work!”
In the quieter winter times for the farm she has been working for Lee Gilbert Agricultural Services, based in Derby, where she does tractor work. Kelly is building up her skill set combining agricultural work, for example with large Fastrac tractors towing Joskin tankers spreading slurry on the land, with her truck driving. She drives haulage trucks pulling tankers, curtain-siders and pallet containers with companies in Lincolnshire as well as back home. Her driving takes her to Boston, Spalding and Skegness on the east coast.
However, there is an artistic side to this determined young woman as Kelly reveals her talent for painting saying: “My grandmother is an artist, particularly painting birds and other wild animals. She teaches art classes from home. I received an A star in my Art GCSE and I paint as a hobby. I once painted a tractor for my husband and he showed it to his friends who then asked me to paint theirs.
“I had a few commissions and started a Facebook page. In the winter I had more time to paint, not now though as I am busy driving. However, I decided to paint something for the staff at Dulson Training as it is a family run business and they had been so kind to me. I took some photos of the DAF trucks and a Nissan Navara pick up and a Mercedes minibus and then painted them. They now hang in the office at Dulson Training.”
“I would encourage anyone thinking about a new career to think about learning to drive a truck. I am now putting my training into practice.”