The ‘Highway Queens’ project will share the stories of some of Australia’s and New Zealand’s fearless female truckies, while raising money for a very worthy cause.
A few years ago, Aussie truckie Jacqui Pyres came up with the idea of a book where the stories of female truckies could be collated and shared, with the hope of inspiring more women to follow a similar path.
Sadly, Pyres never got to see the project completed. She lost her battle with breast cancer earlier this year. Now, the team behind the project, which is being led by New Zealand truckie Amanda Bright, will dedicate the book to her and everyone else who has been affected by breast cancer.
“Jacqui had a heart of gold. Every time I spoke to her about the book, she had so many ideas, one of which was incorporating Australian drivers into the project too,” said Bright, who drives a 540hp Scania, delivering beverages from Palmerston North to Wellington.
Prior to the Highway Queens project, the Facebook group behind it (Australasia Female Truckies) had published several calendars featuring New Zealand female truckies, with proceeds from their sale donated to breast cancer research. For 2020, there were two calendars produced, one for the South Island and one for the North Island
“Jacqui suggested creating a book instead because it could serve as a lifetime treasure. Someone else suggested we donate the proceeds to breast cancer research. So we thought, if we can produce calendars, surely we can do a book. At the time, I was off work with an injury and thought I had all the time in the world, so I put my hand up. I’m not a journalist or a writer, so I thought the easiest way to do it was to get the girls to write their own story, in their own words, about their own life – putting their own flair into their stories,” explained Bright.
“We unfortunately never got Jacqui’s story from her, but there’s an Aussie truckie named Joanna Martin who has spoken with Jacqui’s family and will put her story together for the book on her behalf.”
Bright has now been working on the book for the past three years. She’s set herself a deadline of August 1, 2021 to have all of the stories together and is on the hunt for more female truckies to share their stories.
“We’ve had stories coming in weekly now, which is awesome. There’s been an overwhelming response from people wanting to be in the book,” she said.
“I thought the hardest thing was to get the stories, but it’s turned out to be finding the funding to get the book published.”
As well looking for inspiring stories from female truckies, Bright said the group is also on the lookout for sponsorship to help get the book published.
“For the last three years the book has been sitting in the background, getting a few stories here and there, so we decided to choose an event to launch it. In March next year, there is our Christchurch TMC Trailers Trucking Industry Show, which is quite big, so we thought that would be a good place to launch it. We’re now working backwards from our August deadline.”
Now, Bright is hoping she can encourage more female truckies to submit their stories for the Highway Queens book. “Whatever stories we have by our deadline, we’ll make it work. We want to make something that the women involved can be proud of, that they can hand to the next generation, and then the next after that,” she said.
“What we’re looking for is your location, what you do, why you love doing it, your highs and lows and something that readers will enjoy reading about yourself. Everyone has joined the industry in different stages – some have just started, some have been in it for a lifetime. I hope the book inspires others to get into truck driving too.
“I think Highway Queens is a great way to showcase what we can do and why we love doing what we do. There is nothing better than jumping in a truck and getting paid to see the country and then being able to build those relationships with the other truck drivers out on the road. I’ve been doing this run for the past three years, so you get to know the other drivers which is really awesome. And, hopefully we can show the world that us ladies can do this job really well, we can look after the gear and we have some awesome stories to tell too.”
For all female truckies (in Australia and New Zealand) wanting to be involved in the book, send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the team behind the project via the Facebook page: The Book- Highway Queens.