A Heathrow Express train driver has been recognised after she convinced colleagues to work a day without pay to support a fellow driver who had taken time off to care for his terminally ill mother.
Cheryle Cowell, who has worked for Heathrow Express for the last seven-and-a-half years, stepped in to help Glauco Hugentobler Ayres after the Brazilian-German driver used up his compassionate leave looking after his mother who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Brisbane-born Cheryle organised a secret roster of drivers to make up the days he owed the company, so that Glauco would not have to give up his annual leave and days off for the next two years.
On Christmas Day last year, Glauco received a card in which his colleagues told him they had worked off most of the 70+ days he owed.
When I set out to get the drivers to work the days I never expected anything in return or wanted anything in return. So this just pretty much the highlight of my year.
Cheryle said: “Just to be nominated, I was completely humbled by that. When I set out to get the drivers to work the days, I never expected anything in return or wanted anything in return. So this is just pretty much the highlight of my year. But this award isn’t just for me, it’s for every train driver who worked a day for a colleague.”
Cheryle was presented with the award at the RailStaff Awards ceremony on October 20, at the ICC in Birmingham.
Andy Milne, editor of RailStaff magazine, said: “This is one of the best stories told this year. Drivers are often viewed as loners, people with considerable strength of character and self sufficient in the cab. In fact Cheryle Cowell and her colleagues give a glimpse here of a camaraderie that would be the envy of many. Their big-hearted support for Glauco inspires us all.”
Heathrow Express operates fast and frequent services between Heathrow Airport and London Paddington.
The 2012 Rail Person of the Year Award was sponsored by Network Rail.