You may have shouted ‘Eddie’ passing them on the motorway or caught a glimpse of their adventures in the Channel 5 series Trucks & Trailers but there is a passionate group of Eddie Stobart fans that have taken their interest much further.

The haulage firm has over 2,500 trucks in its fleet and has grown a fan club of 12,500 members and became the subject of a documentary series shadowing its drivers and the company’s followers, known as ‘spotters.’

Dale Dickinson has admired Stobart trucks from the age of seven when he spotted them to pass time travelling to London and back on weekends with his father who drove trucks for a living.

The 33-year-old, who lives in Huthwaite, Notts, works in the customer service department at Bonds Confectionery and spends his lunchhours, evenings and weekends standing on motorway bridges snapping the iconic green, white and red lorries.

Dale Dickinson pictured with the Leigh Anne, named after his ex-fiance, in Carlisle. Picture: Dale Dickinson
Dale Dickinson with the Leigh Anne, named after his ex-fiance, in Carlisle. Picture: Dale Dickinson

“Some people go golfing, drifting or collect stamps. I go spotting, it is just another hobby,” he says, conceding that it is viewed as ‘geeky’ by some.

When it was formed in 1997, Dale joined the Stobart Club and has since spent weekend breaks with friends photographing the company’s lorries and featured in three series of the television programme.

One of the perks of club membership is the chance to name your own truck but the father of three has found that naming trucks has not worked in his favour.

“The first one I named was after a girl I fancied at school in 1999 but that didn’t go down well with her.

“The second was named after my ex-fiancé who I was with for four years. Unfortunately we split up but the truck has stayed on the road and the next one I’m naming after my niece.

“I’m never naming one after a partner again, it seems to be a bad omen.”

Dale Dickinson with his two week old son Dylan in front of a Stobart Sport model in Carlisle. Photo: Dale Dickinson
Dale Dickinson with his two-week-old son Dylan in front of a Stobart Sport model in Carlisle. Photo: Dale Dickinson

From 2010 to 2014 Eddie Stobart: Trucks & Trailers was broadcast on Channel 5 spotlighting the company and Dale’s hobby. He featured in the programme but believes it did the pastime no favours.

“The TV show was a good thing for the Stobart Group in terms of publicity and business for the fan club but it’s also had a detrimental effect.

“What’s happened now is that people want to spot the drivers instead. They’re also walking across yards without wearing hi-visibility clothing and unfortunately depots are closing to the public,” Dale adds.

And he’s not alone in this view. James Bonnett has also been an Eddie Stobart fan from a young age and he has noticed the change since the show.

James, of Radcliffe-on-Trent, has found the hobby becoming increasingly popular but that depots have subsequently closed their gates for safety reasons.

But that has not deterred the 24-year-old who collects and reviews truck models, makes stop-motion animations with them and is currently training to become a HGV lorry driver. Next month he will drive one for the first time.

“I’m a bit nervous but it will lead the way for me to drive for Stobart eventually. That’s what I want to do,” says James, who works in the bakery at his local Co-op.

James Bonnett (L) with Stobart driver Mark Dixon, who appeared in the TV show, in front of the Phoebe Grace in 2013. Photo: James Bonnett
James Bonnett (L) with Stobart driver Mark Dixon, who appeared in the TV show, in front of the Phoebe Grace in 2013. Photo: James Bonnett

When he’s not working or out spotting, James, who met the business’ late owner Edward Stobart at the 1999 Peterborough Truck Festival, collects Stobart models and has acquired around 300.

But his impressive collection came to a halt in 2012.

“I had a girlfriend who didn’t like me spotting, she wanted me to spend all my money on her instead of doing what I wanted to do.

“It was one of the factors that contributed to the break-up.”

His current girlfriend, however, shares his passion and the pair regularly go out spotting.

Twenty-six year old Rebecca Stirland, from Hucknall, watched the television series and owned a Stobart model truck before meeting James and has embraced his hobby.

“I laughed and thought it was strange at first. It’s the last thing I would imagine having in common but we do now.”

James Bonnett (R) pictued with the late Edward Stobart in 1999. Photo: James Bonnett
James Bonnett (R) pictued with the late Edward Stobart in 1999. Photo: James Bonnett

The couple have been together a year and spent their first Valentine’s together looking out for Eddie Stobart trucks.

“We went to Doncaster spotting on our first Valentine’s. It was my idea. He’d booked the weekend off and we were going out for a meal Saturday night and I asked if he wanted to go,” says Rebecca, of Perlethorpe Drive.

Aside from spotting, James also runs a Stobart Facebook group and uploads stop-motion video stories of his model trucks to YouTube, attracting 890 subscribers.

The videos may only last for minutes but the fiddly nature of the animation, taking a photo after each minute movement, takes him hours to capture.

It might not be a hobby to everyone’s taste but the baker explains that it stems from a love of motoring.

“I like trucks and back in the day Eddie Stobart were the crème de la crème, you couldn’t beat them.

“We all need our hobbies and I’ve got a few. I’ve got model building, collecting models and going out spotting.”

James Bonnett's model Eddie Stobart depot. Photo: James Bonnett
James Bonnett’s model Eddie Stobart depot. Photo: James Bonnett

Stobart Club membership costs £18 for the first year and merchandise, including onesies, fridge magnets and teddy bears, can be bought from the club’s website. Few would have imagined that the haulage firm could attract such a fan base when it was established in 1970.

According to a company spokesperson, the Eddie Stobart vehicles started to become a familiar sight for motorists on UK roads during the early 1990s and as interest grew, the members club was created.

They add: “We’re very proud of our following and honoured that there’s such an interest out there in our business and in our fleet.”