What is your name, and can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Ella, though everyone calls me Mick the Tree. I am 21 years old and drive around the UK with a DAF, or occasionally an ERF; I’m usually pulling a flat bed trailer delivering steel, though sometimes I take abnormal loads such as boats and overhead cranes, up to around 80ft. My truck and trailer rarely weigh less than 100 kg below the UK legal limit (44ton)
What made you decide to become a truck driver?
I have always loved driving since I was 9 years old driving around the fields in a ford fiesta – you’ve gotta start somewhere. When I first drove a 7.5 tonner I had this buzz from being bigger than the other vehicles on the road and just had to go bigger.
How did you get you’re start in truck driving?
I used to be a tree surgeon (hence Mick the Tree) and we had three 7.5 tonners and a 14 ton wagon, each pulling a chipper. I got my class 2 (rigid lorries) at 18 then took my class 1 ( artics) at 20. Then during a snowy period we couldn’t climb the trees so I was made redundant temporarily. For those few weeks I went out double manning in an artic to get some more practice. They offered me a job and I haven’t looked back since.
How long have you been a truck driver?
I have been driving rigid lorries since I was 18 years old and artics for around 10 months.
What do you like or dislike about being a truck driver?
I love almost everything about my job, the solitude, waking up in a different place every day, having my co driver Angus (my dog) by my side all the time. The only things I dislike are that occasionally I have to park up in rough areas and have prostitutes knocking on my door all night and people trying to steal my diesel. It can be stressful at times as my boss always pushes us hard and we are up against the clock almost all the time – racing to get tipped before the place shuts.
Did you encounter anything unexpected after you became a truck driver?
The only thing that has surprised me is how welcoming other drivers are of a young girl driving an artic, that and the fact that the few other women drivers I have seen just seem to give me death stares. I had thought there would be more solidarity within such a small group.
Who do you drive a truck for?
A small firm based in the West Midlands; we have 7 wagons on the road.
Are you happy working for them?
Do you have any regrets?
I wish I hadn’t cracked the step panel on my first week at work.
Is there anything else you want to tell us about truck driving?
I feel that, certainly in the UK we are an industry that is misunderstood. People seem to think that we are all arrogant, greasy old men. I know this is not true and I like to be the face that proves it.