19 August 2011
AA patrols have around 30,000 years of service between them - averaging more than 10 years, around double the UK average.
The AA's longest-serving patrol celebrates 45 years of service at the roadside on 22 August. Jim Haggart, 60, of Eastwood, Glasgow, joined the AA on 22 August 1966 as a 16-year-old cadet.
The AA is actually Jim's third job: "I left school at fifteen and got a job as an office boy but I hated it. I then worked as an electrician's apprentice but left after touching a bare wire - there was no health and safety in those days."
The AA job came about after he responded to a newspaper advert for an AA cadet scheme. "It sounded like a good job to me but rather than being called for interview, it was actually my father they wanted to speak to first - I think they wanted to see if I was from 'good stock'!"
Thankfully for Jim, who's always worked in Glasgow, the regional manager based at the AA's former Blythswood Square office saw his potential and Jim joined the association in the days when it was run very much along regimented lines.
I love working on cars and talking to our members - to me, that's what it's all about - although their jaws tend to drop if they ask me how long I've worked for the AA
Jim Haggart, AA patrol
One of the first tasks for the fresh-faced cadet was to learn to drive: "I took my test privately the first time and failed spectacularly. The second time, I went out with my old superintendent who was also an examiner - imagine the pressure of having your boss take your driving test!"
In his time, Jim has been behind the wheel of a wide range of AA vehicles. His first was a motorbike - a BSA Bantam - but he never got on a bike again after crashing it. In 1970, he got a Minivan, before an Austin Minor, Morris Marina, Talbot Express, Vauxhall Brava, Volkswagen Transporter (T4) and now a Vauxhall Vivaro.
Jim says: "Even though I've pretty much seen it all in my 45 years, the job still surprises me at times and I still learn new things. I love working on cars and talking to our members - to me, that's what it's all about - although their jaws tend to drop if they ask me how long I've worked for the AA."
Jim joined the AA in August 1966 as a 16-year-old cadet
As to when Jim will call it a day, he says: “My body will tell me when it's time but I'm not ruling out getting to 50 years service!”
Jim's manager, Graham Coburn, says: "Jim is a brilliant patrol. He is always at the top of the team in performance and he's also one of the all-round nice guys who has a funny story for every occasion. He always tells me I have too much to say for someone who has just started, and I've been here more than 30 years!
"Our patrols like to say they fix the member first, then the car, and Jim epitomises this spirit. He's a fantastic ambassador and we're very proud of his achievement today."
In recognition of his outstanding loyalty and service, the AA is presenting Jim with a specially commissioned service award, gift vouchers and an extra ten days annual leave.
(Picture of Jim with his 45 year long service award is copyright PA Wire/Press Association Images)
(19 August 2011)