She wears fake eyelashes and eats salad for lunch. Rachel Hutchinson is not your typical long-distance lorry driver.
But the 19-year-old has sped through her exams to become one of the country’s youngest holders of an HGV licence. Rachel is now working for her mum’s haulage firm SRT Ltd – Sally and Rachel’s Transport – making weekly trips up to Scotland in a 44-tonne truck.
“People are quite shocked because I don’t look like a truck driver,” said Rachel.”I have got blonde hair with big fake eyelashes.
“I get asked ‘are you sure you’re not meant to be at school?’ because apparently I don’t look old enough.”
Rachel will use some of her truck driver earnings to fund a six-year law degree with the Open University, which she starts next year. The teenager, of South Cave, qualified as a lorry driver on September 8, a year after passing her driving test.
She can drive rigid lorries and all articulated combinations, and has a licence to carry chemicals.Rachel mainly transports goods for a Dutch firm, delivering plants to garden centres and councils.
“I have been driving for three months now and it’s getting better as I’m getting a bit more confident,” she said. “I thought the training wasn’t going to be as difficult as it was, but you get in the lorry and it goes different ways to the way you want it to go. “It’s completely different to driving a car.
“The age at which a prospective lorry driver can qualify was lowered from 21 to 18 in September last year. As Rachel is under 21, she is not yet allowed to be elected as a MP, local councillor or a mayor, adopt a child, hold an airline transport pilot’s licence, supervise a learner driver, or hire a car.
Last month, a national newspaper claimed Katie Gillard, of Somerset, was the youngest lorry driver in the country. The 19-year-old is qualified to drive 32-tonne trucks, a class below Rachel.
Rachel gained her HGV licence after doing a two-month fast-track course in Dunswell. She had applied for funding for the training after she was made redundant from her hospitality job at Swan Honda, a British Superbike Team.
The Job Centre Plus Rapid Response Service, which works with people facing redundancy, stepped in, allowing her to qualify and gain employment at the family firm.