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Tony Rich from Warrington is hitting top gear after being crowned Patrol of the Year - the AA's top accolade for its roadside patrols across the country - at the AA Employee Awards held at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow on 18 May.
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 43-year-old, who is married with a daughter, first joined the AA in 2000 after previously working as a main dealer technician. In his time, he's worked on all manner of cars from a 1912 Rolls-Royce to the latest supercars. Working at the roadside often demands improvisation and he once used metal filings and glue to mend an alternator regulator to help a member get home.
One of his most amusing call-outs was to someone locked out of their car who hadn't noticed that the window was fully open!
Outside of work, he likes to stay fit by running and cycling and spend time away with family in his campervan. If money was no object, his dream car is an Audi R8.
there's a lot of pride in wearing the uniform, so I am very pleased and humbled to be representing my colleagues in the patrol force
Tony Rich, AA patrol of the year
Tony says: "I was in shock when they read out my name - there's a lot of pride in wearing the uniform, so I am very pleased and humbled to be representing my colleagues in the patrol force.
"I love being a patrol and having the satisfaction of turning a breakdown into a positive experience for the member."
Steve Dewey, AA road operations director and former patrol, says: "AA patrols have one of the best and most challenging jobs in the motor trade - you're effectively your own boss, working on pretty much any vehicle and in all weather – but there's more to it than just the technical aspects.
"Our patrols like to say they fix the member first, then the car, and Tony 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."
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. Last year's winner was Andy Smith from Basingstoke, Hampshire.
(20 May 2013)