The grand final of the competition was the culmination of a year-long search to find the best fork lift truck operator in the UK and Ireland.
Beginning in November 2012 the competition started with an online theory test that was open to some 300,000 RTITB-accredited lift truck operators.
The top 40 entrants progressed to live heats held at IMHX 2013 in March at the Birmingham NEC. During a week of hard competition 40 qualifiers were whittled down to the 10 Grand Finalists who met to compete for the crown at last Friday’s prestigious competition conclusion.
During a day of gruelling tests that challenged their theory and knowledge skills, along with their operational abilities, each of the 10 finalists showed extraordinary depth of knowledge and skill, competing in difficult circumstances and under very close public scrutiny.
Attended by guests from across the warehousing and logistics industry, including the RHA, FTA and CILT, the Grand Final proved a resounding success as it celebrated the skills and dedication not only of the operators themselves but also their trainers and employers.
Jane Willis, Director of the HSE’s cross-cutting interventions directorate, stressed the importance of highlighting the dangers of materials handling and the vital role of training when it came to improving standards and safety.
Laura Nelson, Operations Director at RTITB, added: "The tireless dedication of our accredited organisations and their commitment to safety standards are the reasons why this industry has such skilled operatives."
As well as being recognised as Forklift Operator of the Year, Ryszard, stock operations clerk at Wincanton’s site in Branston, received a brand new Toyota Aygo courtesy of one of the main sponsors.
"I want to thank RTITB and the sponsors for putting on this competition and for allowing me and the other finalists to show our skills," he said.
Gavin Williams, Wincanton’s business unit director for retail operations, said: "We are simply delighted for Ryszard and applaud his hard work and considerable skills. Ryszard’s award underlines Wincanton’s complete dedication and commitment to both driver safety and training."