Real Rail People- 03-02-2020

Stuart- Safety Team

Today we hear a Real Rail Story from Stuart, Head of Safety:

Back in 2012 I took a voluntary redundancy as my career within Her Majesty’s Passport Office (Home Office) as a Manager had stalled due to changes in Government. This decision to exit the Civil Service was a risk but the best one of my life. After suffering a long-term injury, a close friend recommended I apply to GBRf for a fresh start after a spell in manual labour and sales.

I successfully applied for a position in the expanding Safety Team under the Head – Lee Bayliss but never realised the opportunities that I would be presented with and the ethos of GBRf.

Within 6 months I was put through my first external qualification, followed in year 2 by the next. My transferable skills assisted me in achieving all assessments and repaying the faith and investment of the company.

From this my succession plan was born with support from the HR department.

I then completed my full rise through the ranks into the Head of Safety position when my mentors Annette Edington and Colin Graham left the business.

I couldn’t be prouder to hold this position and report to John Smith who has been an integral part of my desire to improve within GBRf due to his values the company is set up on. I would happily retire a member of the GBRf family.

Real Rail People- 29-02-2020

Barry- Train Manager

Today we hear a Real Rail Story from Barry, a Train manager in Peterborough::

After attending a SKA weekend in March 2018, I noticed a small hernia in my belly button. I went straight to see my GP who informed me that they’re unable to treat me, leaving me disappointed and thinking “I have a hernia that needs fixing.”

Around 6 weeks after this visit, I received an email about the Westfield Hospital Treatment scheme that GB Railfreight had launched so I decided to explore whether the treatment for Hernia’s was included in the plan. To my delight, hernia repair was covered by the new policy, so I phoned Westfield Health to find out how I progressed with getting the treatment I wanted.

As I had seen my GP 6 weeks prior to the policy being implemented I was concerned whether Westfield Health would reject my case as it was a pre-existing condition, but they reassured me it was not an issue for this particular procedure. They explained I needed to call my GP and let him know I have private medical insurance via Westfield Health, and I would be referred to see a consultant.

I made the call to the GP who asked me to come into the surgery and within 40 minutes I had been referred! The following week I met the General surgeon at the hospital who confirmed the diagnosis and he asked when I would like the surgical repair done and talked through the procedure. A date was agreed and all I had to do now was inform Westfield health.

The consultation fee for seeing the consultant was also covered by GB Railfreight’s Westfield Health Cash Plan which covers the cost up to £300 per policy year.

I called Westfield Health and told them the date of my procedure. They explained they would contact the hospital to negotiate a price. Westfield Health called me back the following day informing me they had the price down which was well within the £3,000 limit for my procedure and they would make a bank transfer to the hospital.

Real Rail People- 28-02-2020

Amanda- Commercial Team

Today we hear a story from Amanda in the Commercial team who shares her experience of some of the unique perks working for GBRf:                                                    

When the Managing Director (John) told me that my name had been drawn for the next locomotive ladies naming event I was so thrilled & excited that it took John a bit by surprise, I think!

 I was so honoured to have been selected and it’s just another unexpected and amazing benefit for being part of the GBRf team. The senior management team always give thought and find unique ways to show they care for their employees, it feels as though we matter and hard work is appreciated.

 I am now in my 36th year on the railway and have enjoyed all aspects of my career to date, however, can honestly say that the last 8 years with GBRf have been the best. My family and friends thoroughly enjoyed the excellent naming day arranged, I did feel blessed & my Dad, who did 41 years railway service, was particularly proud to see his daughters name now on class 66771! Icing on the cake moment for me.

Real Rail People- 27-02-2020

Paul- General Manager

Today we hear Paul’s story about his journey since joining GBRf and battle with Prostate Cancer.

I’ve worked at GBRf for almost 19 years, joining as a Control team leader.  In that time, my career has evolved as much as the company has, where growth has provided me with plenty of opportunities to learn, develop and progress to be the General Manager that I am today.

One of the pleasures of working here, is being able to be part of the charity committee and having an input into what fundraising activities we organise. We are pretty much empowered to do what we want to do, with the remit to encourage as many people across the company to join in and raise money for worthwhile causes. We also have a discretionary pot of money for sponsorship, which can be used to support events, sporting teams or charities that employee’s families may be involved in. For me, having the ability to run the London Marathon as part of the fundraising, fulfilled a lifelong ambition.

I have also had the privilege of being one of the organisers of the big Railtours that we run to raise money. Its making use of the thing we are all best at – Running trains! – and making a positive contribution from that. The trains do inspire a lot of staff to volunteer to help… we have a mix of enthusiasts in the company that just like to get involved in such things, but also others, who like to give their time by working to raise money, rather than just donate a few pounds.

I was diagnosed with Advanced Prostate Cancer in June last year, which came as a complete shock, having not had any noticeable symptoms until I had run in the Marathon a couple of months beforehand.  This completely turned my life upside down, not just with the gruelling chemotherapy, but also the emotional and mental challenges it puts on you and your family.  Workwise, I was thankful I did not have to worry, as my General Managers role was taken care of and I was given a few little projects to keep me occupied and in touch with people as/when I felt up to it.

In my absence, my colleagues on the charity committee decided that Prostate Cancer UK would be the next charity organisation to partner with, to recognise the efforts I had previously made in fundraising.  This has inspired me, as part of my return to work after treatment, to persuade my ‘partners in crime’ to join me in planning another 4-day Railtour this September.

I’m very proud to say, that as a team effort, the charters have raised over £1/4m so far… we want to add to that amazing total with this latest tour.

Real Rail People- 26-02-2020

Michael- Account Manager

Today we hear a story from Michael, a GBRf Account Manager:

I had been suffering with hip issues for 5 years and having initially been told by the NHS that I was too young to have hip surgery, I had no choice but to endure the pain and discomfort.

As the discomfort and my mobility was becoming more and more difficult, last year the NHS finally approved my surgery but advised I would have to wait at least 6 months on their surgery waiting list.

I spoke with my manager and HR to advise them of my impending operation and it was at that point that I was made aware that GBRf offered a new health care scheme to employees and partners which covered the costs of private treatment for certain operations.

HR and I decided to call Westfield to find out if my condition was covered under the scheme and to my delight it was! The process for approving the surgery and scheduling the operation was so swift and seamless and I had the operations within a month of making that initial call to Westfield.

Since the operation I’ve been given a new lease of life and can now move freely without discomfort or pain. I will always be eternally grateful for the support and swift care I received thanks to this wonderful company benefit.

Real Rail People- 25-02-2020

John- Train Manager

Today we hear a story from John, a Train Manager in Peterborough:

Last year I decided to take a career break to explore parts of the world I had never seen before or had not visited for some time. It had long been an ambition of mine and the timing never felt right.  I approached GB Railfreight about the idea of taking a career break for a period of three months and to my delight they were happy to accommodate it.

I would say to any member of staff who is considering taking a “Sabbatical” make sure you have enough funds in place to survive the time off but so far I’ve thoroughly enjoyed mine, the highlight being seeing cousins in South Africa who I last saw 42 years ago!

It was reassuring to take the time off knowing I had a secure job to return at the end of it.  For those thinking of taking some time off I’d say go for it!

Real Rail People- 24-02-2020

Gemma- HR Department

We asked our amazing employees to share their real stories about their experience working at GBRf.

Today we present an important story shared by Gemma who works in our HR department. Stay tuned every day this week as we share a sample of our most inspirational staff stories with you. 

In August 2019, I sadly lost my husband to suicide. The loss understandably turned my world upside down. In the weeks and months that followed, I introduced myself back to work and was overwhelmed with the love and support shown to me by the people at GBRf.

With that love and support displayed from management and co-workers I knew that I wanted to make a difference at GBRf and was encouraged to begin work on GBRf’s Mental Health agenda for 2020. This project saw me immerse myself in understanding more about mental health, reviewing the support already available for our staff and their loved ones, and assessing the foundations needed to ensure we have a culture in the company where staff feel encouraged to speak about their mental health without fear of judgement. 6 months on and this journey has led to where we are now…

Thanks to wonderfully delivered training through Suffolk Mind, we have 45 wellbeing champions in place across the company. These champions will act as listening ears for staff who need to talk about their mental health. Our champions are equipped to signpost staff to our free professional mental health services and other related support. 

The champions will work together closely, engaging as a group on a monthly basis to look at other areas of the business and working environments to assess where improvements can be made to benefit our workforce’s wellbeing. 

We also have an exciting mental health educational video created by our Chief Medical Officer, some mental health e-learning and a proactive mental health management app, created by Everymind at Work. Our managers are also attending Trauma support training through the Samaritans.

The work GBRf have encouraged and allowed me to launch this year has helped me so much on a personal level. It has driven me to do so much more around mental health for the benefit of GBRf and in honour of my late husband and others who have struggled with their mental health. 

I can’t thank GBRf enough for giving me the freedom and opportunity to run with this project in 2020. I’ve had complete support and input from directors and so many other functions who understand its worth have been pivotal in its creation. 

I never imagined my personal life would take the awful turn that it did, but I can truly say that having GBRf’s support on this project has given me motivation, some positivity and focus I needed, and has helped me to overcome some very difficult personal struggles.

I am sure this mental health work will benefit our staff in so many positive ways and the people involved in the Wellbeing Champion roles are such a caring and supportive group. I couldn’t be prouder of them and the good work they are doing across the business. 

For me GBRf is more than just an employer, it cares and always tries to do the right thing by its people. When our staff have fallen on difficult times, I’ve been in the position within HR to see them get the help needed but to be directly on the receiving end of the overwhelming support and encouragement, validates to me that this is truly a one in a kind business.

Scroll to Top