A former insurance broker and a taxi driver are now behind the wheel of some of the largest trucks in the Moody Logistics and Storage fleet after gaining their Class 1 HGV licences.

The family-run firm says their swift transition to a new career offers hope to other transport companies affected by the nationwide shortage of qualified lorry drivers, estimated by the Road Haulage Association to stand at 100,000.

Michael Weightman, 52, and Ray Armstrong, 36, have both gained their Class 1 licences, allowing them to drive lorries weighing up to 44 tonnes.

Michael, from Cramlington, formerly worked in an office-based role in the insurance industry for 30 years and, facing redundancy, opted to undergo his Class 2 training prior to joining the Cramlington-based company, which then supported him in progressing to his Class 1 licence.

Ray, from Seaton Burn, is a former transport manager and taxi driver, who despite his lack of truck driving experience, arrived at Moody’s having self-funded his CPC qualification and Class 2 training, with his test already booked.

Impressed with his enthusiasm and commitment, the firm started him off driving vans and, once he gained his Class 2 licence, he then funded his Class 1 training, supported with a contribution from the firm.

Managing director Caroline Moody said: “There has been a great deal of reporting around the national shortfall in HGV drivers. Moody Logistics and Storage is bucking that trend by its willingness to recruit people with the right positive attitude from outside the industry or with limited experience and giving them the opportunity to progress their careers.

“In addition, we have also created our own driver apprentice scheme which enables apprentices to gain their Class 2 licences within four months as opposed to the 12 to 18 months it takes under the government-backed scheme.

“People of all ages and backgrounds are enthusiastic about becoming HGV drivers and see it as a relevant and rewarding profession. All that is required is an employer prepared to support their development.”

Michael Weightman said: “Many might think it’s a huge change going from insurance broker to lorry driver, but it appealed to me. I decided to get my Class 2 licence and then applied for a job at Moody’s and thanks to their encouragement I now have my Class 1, which allows me to earn more money.”

Ray Armstrong added: “Getting both my Class 2 and Class 1 licence has been a real achievement. I hope it shows others that, if you put your mind to it, that it’s possible to switch careers to something you enjoy doing.”