Stu Barnes

Article by Billericay Gazette: The World's Toughest Trucker has returned to our screens, as he takes on the challenges posed in Channel 4's Shipping Wars.

In 2012 the Gazette reported how Billericay man Stu Barnes, 37, won £100,000 in the first series of the Channel 5 show, beating 60,000 applicants.

More than 1m people tuned into each episode of the primetime show, which saw eight truckers from across the globe drive in the harshest locations, including in the Amazon rainforest and across the Himalayas.

But now Stu, who lives in Bush Hall Road, will be back on the television in a bid to help out his ex-girlfriend Jemma Howdle. He will appear in Shipping Wars, which sees truckers challenged to transport bulky and strangely-shaped cargo across the UK.

Fellow trucker Jemma, 31, was diagnosed with epilepsy following a fit while at the wheel of her 18-wheeler and was left devastated when she had her licence taken away.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Jemma"]I've spent my life savings on trucking. Having your trucking licence taken away is like having your legs chopped off. It is so emotionally challenging because trucking was my life dream and passion.[/quote]

Jemma's second epileptic fit came while driving and she almost crashed into an oil tanker.

'I was in a bush'

After not knowing what had happened, she woke up to find a policeman unstrapping her seatbelt while she told him she had deliveries to make.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Jemma"]Luckily, I didn't crash into anybody but all I remember is that one minute there was a tanker coming towards me and the next a policeman was unstrapping my seat belt. I was telling him I had deliveries to make and he had to let me know that I was in a bush. What frightened me the most was that I could so easily have turned the steering wheel towards the tanker and I wouldn't be here today.[/quote]

The pair previously spent time travelling across Europe together, making stops in Sweden, Spain, Luxembourg, Prague and many more places. After 15 years together as a couple and partners in work, Jemma was able to pick up tricks of the trade from Stu and she was grateful for everything he has done.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Jemma"]One of my first journeys was a drive to Italy and down the side of Mont Blanc, which in a right-hand drive truck is pretty scary. Having Stu alongside me helped massively. He won the World's Toughest Trucker and he was the best person to have next to me and coach me.[/quote]

Stu witnessed Jemma's first epileptic fit after the pair had celebrated the turn of the New Year at a friend's house.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Stu"]I remember one morning, it was New Year's Eve and we'd had a few drinks at friend's house and in the morning I felt a sharp nudge in my back. I turned round and she was there with her eyes rolling in her head and it was horrible.[/quote]

While Stu is used to transporting multi-million pound cars and costumes for celebrity performers such as Robbie Williams, he admitted Shipping Wars was not his idea of trucking.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Stu"]Shipping Wars wasn't my kind of thing. I am always out in Africa and Russia and in the Arctic so delivering stuff in England is different. But I didn't do it for me. I did the show for Jemma because I wanted to give her something.[/quote]

'Everybody will like her'

While he dedicated his time to the show in a bid to give Jemma a reason to be cheerful, Stu is confident she will be a hit with audiences across the country. He said: "I have no interest in being on TV or being famous or making lots of money, I just wanted to do the show for Jemma.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Stu"]Jemma doesn't always think before she opens her mouth so she is great for TV. She is a loveable character so everybody will like her.[/quote]

Living away from home for long periods can be difficult, but for the former couple from Billericay, it was no trouble at all. Before earning her licence, Jemma would make the tea while Stu racked up the miles.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Jemma"]Living in a truck is like a home from home. You sleep, cook, eat and do everything in your truck. Living away from home is all right for us because we have no responsibilities like children, so it is a good life on the open road.[/quote]

Stu's most recent work has involved trips to Sweden, somewhere both he and Jemma have been a number of times, and Jemma has fond memories of their time together in Scandinavia.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Jemma"]We spent a lot of time in Sweden and sometimes it would be -40 degrees. When you are living in the truck you have to make use of your surroundings and Stu even made me an igloo toilet.[/quote]

Stu's help during a tough period of her life didn't go unnoticed and she was grateful for giving her the chance to appear on the show.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Jemma"]During all this time Stu has helped me massively. I need to thank him for everything he has done for me and the adventures we have had. If it wasn't for Stu then I wouldn't be who I am now. There were times where I was low and it was Stu who helped me keep any positivity. He was the one who put my name forward for the show.[/quote]

Catch Shipping Wars on Channel 4, every day at 4pm.

Read original article by Billericay Gazette

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