Stars of the road

From post room to Patrol of the Year

18 May 2012

Formula One fan and keen kayaker Andy Smith, from Hampshire, is thrilled to have been crowned this year’s AA Patrol of the Year. Andy, 43, received his award at a ceremony in London on Saturday 12 May.

Over the coming year, Andy will play a starring role as the public face of the AA, providing tips and advice on all things motoring – advising our members as well as the media.

Andy’s career at the AA began at the age of 17, when he started work in the post room at the AA headquarters in Basingstoke, Hampshire. A long-held ambition to become a patrol prompted him to teach himself vehicle mechanics – reading textbooks from cover to cover – and in 1994 he began life on the road as a patrol.

Since then he has never looked back, and has undertaken additional responsibilities as well as his day-to-day duties as a roadside patrol. He is part of the AA's Special Operations team, who use adapted Land Rovers to rescue members in extreme weather conditions. He also volunteers his time to help maintain and display a 1979 Ford Escort patrol van – part of the AA's 40-strong heritage vehicle fleet.

Andy Smith

Andy Smith

Over the years, Andy has attended many memorable breakdowns, from finding a squirrel's secret stash of acorns in the pipe and air box of a car suffering loss of power, to receiving a helicopter ride from a grateful member following a successful repair at a county show.

Steve Dewey, AA road operations director, says: "Andy is part of the fabric at the AA. He typifies the values of an AA patrol and is a fantastic ambassador for the company. His award is due credit for his 26 years of service, including 18 as a patrol. His determination has taken him from the post room to the top patrol."

Speaking of his achievement, Andy commented: "I was dumbstruck when they read out my name – I was in a bubble. I am delighted to be representing the AA and upholding the traditions of wearing the uniform."

Recovery Patrol of the Year

Classic car enthusiast Malcolm Duckering, 56, picked up the award for Recovery Patrol of the Year at the same ceremony. Malcolm has been with the AA for seven years, and previously worked for Shell as a senior mechanical technician.

Malcolm Duckering

Malcolm Duckering

Like Andy, Malcolm has had his fair share of memorable experiences on the job, including being featured on an episode of Top Gear recovering Jeremy Clarkson’s car from a ditch.

In his spare time, Malcolm’s biggest passion is restoring classic cars, but he also enjoys the odd spot of trout fishing. As a former breeder of golden retrievers, he holds the distinction of having owned a dog that came first at Crufts.

On receiving his award, Malcolm said: “I was in total shock – completely dumbfounded! This is the best job in the world – just helping people every day gives tremendous job satisfaction – so this feels just like I’ve won the lottery."