Horse rider contacted by Government as HGV crisis deepens

Roberta Bradby

Roberta Bradby, a showjumper, who lives at a farm between Hollesley and Shottisham, received a letter from the Department for Transport asking her to consider becoming a HGV driver. - Credit: Roberta Bradby

A Suffolk showjumper has received a letter from the Government urging her to consider a career as an HGV driver as they seek to resolve the crisis.

Rider Roberta Bradby, who lives at a farm between Hollesley and Shottisham, was surprised to find the letter promoting 'employment opportunities' when she opened her post last week.

She initially assumed the letter was a fine or a warning her insurance was expiring.

In the letter, the Department for Transport asks her to consider becoming a driver, saying: "There has never been a better time to find the type of HGV driving job you want."

"It was very strange. I have a HGV licence, which I have to have for my horsebox," she said.

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"I couldn't believe it."

The government has also turned to the army and even ambulance workers in a bid to plug the hole in the labour market which has left the UK with shortage of drivers, causing delays in delivery of food, drinks and even petrol in some areas.

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The lorry driver crisis has been caused by immigration rule changes post-Brexit, the coronavirus pandemic and unfavourable conditions for drivers.

The letter to Roberta Bradby from the Department for Transport. 

The letter to Roberta Bradby from the Department for Transport. - Credit: Roberta Bradby

Horsewoman Roberta does not plan to take the DfT up on its offer, but admits she was a little amazed at the high salaries on offer, with some roles paying as much as £75,000 for a full time driver.

"It's really good they're doing this but I have a job that I'm happy with. It sparked my interest in looking into the salary so I think it's a good idea.

"It's great they're doing something about the shortage." 

Roberta Bradby outside her horsebox

Roberta Bradby has a HGV licence to drive her horse box - Credit: Roberta Bradby

The Government has announced they are offering 5,000 temporary visas to foreign lorry drivers with 300 bespoke visas for tanker drivers following last week's petrol crisis which sparked wide-soread panic and saw many forecourts running dry.

Speaking during a visit to Leeds General Infirmary, prime minister Boris Johnson said the situation on forecourts was “stabilising” after days of filling stations running dry due to panic buying.

He said some 200 troops, including 100 military drivers, were being deployed to support the supply effort as it was important to take “all possible precautions”.

Roberta Bradby outside her horsebox

Roberta Bradby outside her horsebox - Credit: Roberta Bradby

Overall it is estimated that the country faces a shortage of about 100,000 lorry drivers.

A DfT spokesperson said: “The letter was automatically sent to almost one million people with lorry licences.

“Anyone wishing to drive professionally faces further tests and training.”

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