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Irish beauty therapist turned truck driver tells her story
Ireland | Wexford

Irish beauty therapist turned truck driver tells her story

2 Nov 2022 · People

Kelly Diane Freeman is a 30-year-old former beauty therapist who has recently become a truck driver. IRU had the chance to speak with her to see why she decided to make the switch.

Kelly, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Wexford, the Republic of Ireland. Growing up, my dad had a haulage company and I spent a lot of time around trucks. But, back then, it was not common for women to drive trucks, so I was not interested in the profession at the time. Instead, I decided to become a beauty therapist.

After several years of travelling abroad to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and other places, I wanted a career change.

That sounds exciting! Why did you decide to change careers?
While I was in New Zealand, I worked in a warehouse environment where I was driving forklifts and loading/unloading trucks and trailers. That’s when I got interested in the profession. As soon as I returned home, I learnt about the Professional Heavy Goods Vehicle programme that is available here in Ireland. I worked extremely hard to secure a place on this course, as, by then, I had a huge interest in the profession.

And how did it go?
The course was absolutely fantastic. It was a 29-week-long programme from which I obtained different licences and certificates, such as my Rigid Licence and Driver Certificate of Professional Competence, along with training on load securing and more. The programme was exceptional, and the tutors and drivers were amazing. I made some lifelong friends.

The only regret I have is not doing it earlier! But better late than never as they say. I have now been employed by Newline Oil since August 2020, and I absolutely love my job!

Would you recommend your career choice to others?
I would highly recommend it to younger generations (25 and younger). They say if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life, and I stand by that. I am very happy with my decision. There are many opportunities in this industry and various jobs to choose from, whether it be to drive curtain siders, timber trucks, recovery tankers, cranes, the list is endless. There is also a career path by which you could become a transport manager or even the owner of a transport business. You could also get the opportunity to travel abroad and see the world.

Have you experienced any challenges so far?
Insurance for drivers under 25 is challenging. I think that it’s a major hindrance to young people trying to get into the industry. A lot of companies also require experience, but, unfortunately, when we obtain our licences, we do not have any experience. I believe that employers should consider setting up training plans within their companies to encourage and attract young drivers.

You also need to be 21 years old to become a professional truck driver. This prevents young people from entering the profession when they finish school at the age of 18. Instead, they have to look for other opportunities in the meantime, which probably takes them down other career paths.

Any final words for all the young people and women out there?
This industry is growing massively for female drivers. It truly is like a small community of friends who look out for each other every day. The support from the very start of my journey has been phenomenal – and I will be forever grateful. If you are considering this career, do not hesitate!

About Newline Oil

Newline Oil is owned and ran by Gary & Roy Stafford and is part of the Newline Group of Companies, which was established in 1983 by Michael Stafford. Newline Oil supplies to domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural, and marine markets across Wexford County, with depots in Dirr, Murrintown and Enniscorthy. The company delivers quality transport services nationwide, covering all 32 counties, specialising in multidrop Moffett Mounty deliveries.

Raluca Marian and Kelly Freeman at the EU Dinner Dialogue on driver shortages in Brussels
Kelly Freeman joined us for our EU Dinner Dialogue on driver shortages in Brussels. Here she talks to our Director of EU Advocacy, Raluca Marian.