Thompsons Tippers’ business development manager for the South East drove herself from Dover to Yorkshire in a 32-tonne manual tipper just days after passing her HGV driving test.

Sheri Gibbons, who joined the business in January this year, said it was “quite a jump” from the automatic she’d learnt in to the four over four split gearbox with a three-way tipper body, but that she “had a quick run around in it the day before to familiarise myself, but other than that once I got my head round it, it was absolutely fine.”

Gibbons drove the tipper, which belongs to Thompsons customer Andrews Excavation, to last week's Tip-ex show in Harrogate, where the vehicle was on display.

Gibbons joined Thompsons from Scania’s Purfleet dealership, where she completed a sales apprenticeship straight out of her A levels.

Like many in the sector, Gibbons said she fell into the industry accidentally, but that she was glad she had.

“I am really glad I’ve done it - really glad. I like waving the flag for the girls, but otherwise I would have ended up going to university and doing a degree I didn’t really want to do.”

Gibbons said that her school had been focused on its students getting into universities, and that “apprenticeships just weren’t recognised”.

She said that she didn’t know what she wanted to do after school, just that she didn’t want to go to university. It wasn’t until the father of a friend, who was a sales director at Scania, suggested the sales apprenticeship that Gibbons had even considered an apprenticeship, let alone one in the transport world.

Gibbons said she believes the tipper sector has a particular shortage of women because they “just don’t see it as an option”.

“I honestly just don’t think they even consider it. I don’t know whether that’s drummed into people from an early age. I fell into it - I can’t say I actively sought out the tipper industry.”

She added that even while preparing for her practical HGV test, she was labelled according to industry stereotypes.

When she went for her medical, the man implied that Gibbons had gone to the wrong place, as he was doing a medical for an HGV test.

“After that, people just assumed I was taking it to drive horses,” she said. “I think a lot of women would get that, because generally a lot of women don’t want to drive a tipper. I don’t think people need to make the assumption but they do, because it’s the go to.”