Max Holdstock from Sunbury has been crowned Patrol of the Year – the AA's top accolade for its roadside patrols across the country – at this year's AA Employee Awards.
In his new role, he will spend the next 12 months as the ‘public face’ of the company, representing the UK’s biggest motoring organisation within the motor industry and before the media.
The judging began in February with regional heats across the UK and the five finalists were then put through intensive technical and driving tests, panel interview and mock live TV interviews at the AA's training centre in Leicestershire.
The 29-year-old petrolhead, who is engaged, only joined the AA 2 and a half years ago after previously working in motorsport, at a local motorcycle dealer and in aircraft maintenance.
In his time on the road, he's worked on all manner of cars from a McLaren 12C supercar with a flat tyre to an engine fault on a tiny Microcar.
Working at the roadside often demands improvisation and he once removed an old Land-Rover's starter motor that had seized in the engaged position, so when the engine was running it was still turning the starter motor. But because the two shared the same wiring and mounting brackets the alternator had to be separately secured and wired direct to the battery.
"The Landie was then bump-started it to get the member home and it was a pleasing solution.
"Another job involved replacing a failed coil in one car with one from a Ford, which I happened to have on the van.
"The coil itself is identical but the terminals and housing are different so it needed some modification to the wiring loom. But it was a neat solution that meant the delighted member could drive home!” he says.
I couldn't believe it when they read out my name at the award ceremony.
Max Holdstock, Patrol of the Year 2015
Outside of work, he loves rebuilding bikes– from his first bike (Suzuki TS50) and car (original Mini) to his current projects (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution I and a 1978 Yamaha RS100) – and exploring the countryside on his Yamaha enduro-motorbike. If money was no object, his dream car is a Ford GT40.
Max says: "I couldn't believe it when they read out my name at the award ceremony. There's a lot of pride in wearing the uniform and I really look forward to representing the patrol force.
"If you love cars and bikes, being an AA patrol is a brilliant career and you can't beat the satisfaction of turning a breakdown into a positive experience for the member."
His award is due credit for his service to members at the roadside.
Olly Kunc, AA road operations director
Olly Kunc, AA road operations director, says: "AA patrols have one of the best and most challenging jobs in the motor trade. While they use the latest equipment, including Bosch vehicle diagnostics, to help fix pretty much any vehicle on the road, there's more to it than just the technical aspects.
"Our patrols like to say they fix the member first, then the car, and Max typifies these values that set AA patrols apart. His award is due credit for his service to members at the roadside and he's a fantastic ambassador for the company."
Mo Moran from York, pictured, was crowned this year's Recovery Patrol of the Year. The 53-year-old joined the AA 4 and a half years ago after a varied career as an HGV driver, chemical operative and Army (Royal Corps of Transport) close protection chauffeur. In his time, he’s recovered all manner of cars from a McLaren 12C supercar to a 1930s Wolseley.
Outside of work, he enjoys a spot of coarse fishing, hillwalking and is a keen Leeds United fan. His dream car is a Volvo XC90.
Mo says: "When they read out my name, I was ecstatic! I am very proud to fly the flag for the AA recovery patrols. I love helping members who find themselves in an unfortunate situation and to see them happy when we get them safely back."
The AA Patrol of the Year award started in 1987 to recognise the service and dedication of its around 3,000 patrols at the roadside.
(23 July 2015)