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Midlands and south national champion, John Lawson Jnr prepares for the operator of the year grand final 2011

Just one month ago, Midlands and South National finalist, John Lawson Jnr, was celebrating his win after being crowned champion, stating: ‘It’s absolutely fabulous that I’ve got through. I’m really looking forward to the final.’ With the heavily anticipated Grand Final just under two months away, John, from Nuneaton, is joining the other 9 finalists in preparing for his chance to be declared Operator of the Year 2011.

Back in June of this year, John, who is employed and trained by TNT Fashion Group, Lutterworth, impressed the judges with his skill and expertise in fork lift truck operation, beating 11 qualified and experienced lift truck operators from across the Midlands and South. The event, hosted by TNT Express Services UK & Ireland in Tamworth, saw all 12 National Finalists complete a range of tests including two practical tests (The BBC and The Platinum Ring) and a pre-use check. The operator with the least amount of penalties for all tests was declared the winner, earning a direct place in the Grand Final.

In keeping with the structure of the National Finals, the competitors will be unaware of what the 8 different Grand Final tests will entail. As a result, some competitors may have opted to steer away from excessive preparation, as is the case with John. When asked about his preparation for the final, John said: ‘I’ve not had a chance to do any practice yet, but I’m planning on doing some refresher training a few days before the final.’ However, although John is planning to complete some level of preparation before the big day, he is aware of the negative aspects of being over-prepared: ‘I’m not planning on practicing excessively as firstly, I don’t know what the tests will involve and secondly, I don’t want to pick up any bad habits.’

As a competitor in the last of the National Finals, John may hold a slight advantage over the other competitors as aspects of the Nationals may still be fresh in his mind. John is honest in stating that as yet he is not nervous about the final, to be held at the RTITB Headquarters in Telford, Shropshire, saying: ‘I really can’t wait for the final, I’m feeling pretty confident at the moment – I should be coming home with a new car if I’m lucky!’

John was one of thousands of qualified counterbalance operators from across the UK and Ireland who applied to participate in the competition, including Midlands and South runner-up, Colin Price, from Telford. The competition, now in its second year, has been praised as a way in which to set the standards within the material handling industry. John agrees with this positive feedback saying: ‘I would definitely recommend the competition to other operators. Although I was scared at first, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I met some great people and there was a good atmosphere overall.’

John will join the other 9 Grand Finalists on 16th September, all of whom will compete for a brand new car and the title of Operator of the Year 2011. The Grand Final event is open to the public who, along with the chance to watch some of the best lift truck operators from across the UK and Ireland in action, will also have an opportunity to meet The RTITB team and enjoy the array of games, competitions and refreshments that will be on offer. To register attendance at the final, visit the RTITB website at: www.rtitb.co.uk/fltcompetition

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