Those of you who have been reading this blog from the outset will know when I started I was highly critical of First in just about all aspects of the operations. I was considered a "First hater". As it happened I wasn't, as I have proved by criticising anyone who warrants it. In the next three years three men have been responsible for turning First around, with amazing support from their junior managers and staff. These three are David Squire, former Managing Director who I believe is now plying his trade at Bristol, Chris Speed, who has transformed operations, vehicle presentation and on board revenue, and Hugo Forster who has masterminded Commercial activities. Thanks to those three First have transformed.
So it was a shock when news reached me a few weeks ago that one of Chris or Hugo was going to lose their job due to management restructuring. There is a well known phrase which says if it aint broke don't fix it. Losing either Chris or Hugo is not going to be good. They are experts in their field and without them First would be in a very different position. Well the decision has been made.
On Monday Chris Speed started his new position as Head of Operations at First Eastern Counties. I'm delighted for him and the future looks good for First. It also means I can nag him about certain issues which is even better. However I am truly gutted for Hugo Forster, who has given so much and played a massive part in rescuing FEC from the doldrums. He has accepted voluntary redundancy and I am confident he will be eagerly snapped up by another company, not necessarily in the bus industry, as in his favour Hugo isn't a bus enthusiast and so will survive quite happily in another industry. Thank you for what you have done for First, Hugo, and I wish you every success for the future.
As for Chris, congratulations mate, so pleased you are staying with us, and I look forward to your random phone calls just to chew the cud. Good luck in your new role, which I'm sure will only benefit the travelling public of Norfolk and Suffolk. You'll soon hear from me if it doesn't!!!