Mariachi band

Arriving at Park Lane for the start of the MT Awards is where the buzz really starts to build – and in 2013 the atmosphere was given an extra twist as our 1,600 guests were greeted by the world famous Mariachi band. They didn’t actually get much chance to play as everyone – RTM MD Andy Salter and myself included – wanted to have their photo taken with the band. Don’ you whant me babee?

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The great thing about the MT Awards is that everyone who is anyone is there. Yes people come for a great night out but catching up with old friends is a big part of the night. Here I get to mingle with Dawsonrentals director Ian Jones, TfL senior policy officer Ian Wainwright and FTA chief exec Theo de Pencier. Sadly while schmoozing is fine I don’t get to join in the boozing til the last trophy is safely handed over.

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Probably the best – and worst – part of my job is being first on stage to introduce the awards. It doesn’t matter how many times you do it, the legs turn to jelly when your name is read out by the booming voice of God Peter Dickson. But it is an overwhelming privilege to play even a small part in this huge event – the golden rule being ; ‘always leave ‘em wanting more!’

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For 2013 we mixed things up a bit, having some pre-awards entertainment from the brilliant Rainer Hersch and his orchestra. Everyone loves to see their peers ritually humiliated and thankfully this industry is blessed with some great sports who don’t mind obliging! Mini Clipper sales director Jayne Masters seemed a natural when she stepped up with the baton.

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The awards were presented in 2013 by the hilarious Dara O’Briain, who unlike most people from the telly is actually bigger in real life! Being on stage alongside the star of the show means I can’t actually hear a word he says – the sound is all projected out to our lovely audience. So I just laugh when they laugh – even if I am the butt of the joke.

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But as ever the main part of the evening is handing out those iconic bronze trophies – which will forever be known as the ‘gay hoola hoopa’ awards after Michael McIntyre rechristened them a couple of years ago. All the hard work is worth it when we see the absolute delight on the winners’ faces as they come on stage – in this case it is Keith Sims of Repair and Maintenance Workshop of the Year HRVS whose grin looks like it goes from ear to ear.

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Definitely a top 10 most awkward moment of the awards was when a senior manager from long time sponsor Isuzu Truck decided he was going flash-mob the awards and get his entire table to join him on stage for an impromptu singalong! I looked at Dara – he shrugged – so it was down to me to explain gently that it wasn’t quite the done thing and the only job he was required to do was present the trophy. Crisis averted.


The last award of the evening is always Haulier of the Year, sponsored from the very start 27 years ago by MAN. Quite apart from the fact at this point I am really looking forward to my first glass of wine of the evening it is a great feeling to hand over that most coveted award to a firm who has passed the closest scrutiny by our most eminent judging panel. Driving up and down the motorways of Britain I always enjoy spotting a Haulier of the Year sticker on the trucks of previous winners.

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Then it is time to party – the MT Awards always remind me of sixth form discos of old, where everyone from the headmaster to the school swot lets their hair down and hits the dance floor. The after show party was introduced a couple of years ago and is now well-established as a great way to finish the evening.


It wouldn’t be the MT Awards without a charity casino. Taking a break from the dance floor to raise money for good causes – in 2013 it was male cancer charity Everyman – while trying to win some great prizes remains as popular as ever. All too soon it is 1am and time to head off to the bar for a quick night cap before sinking into the Grosvenor House’s enormous beds. See you there on 2 July 2014 – put the date in your diary and book early to avoid disappointment.