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Ashford’s leading independent garage is firing on all cylinders after two major award successes confirmed its high-flying status.

D&D Autos, based in Moat Way, Orbital Park, Ashford, was named Best Large Garage of the Year at the Automechanika Birmingham Garage of the Year awards ceremony.

And in a separate success, the family business’s senior diagnostic technician Matthew Pestridge has been named as one of the top five technicians in the entire country following a series of gruelling practical tests.

Matthew, the son of garage owner Derek Pestridge, will now go forward to the final of the competition, which will be held on 23 June in Northampton and will choose the country’s top technician.

D&D Autos operations manager Lorraine Fuller said Matthew had made it “a personal challenge” to pit his diagnostic skills against the best in the country.

“He took part in an online assessment and made it through to the top 20 and then competed at the next level to get to the top 10,” she explained. “The next round involved a number of practical 20 minute assessments, solving technical problems on a real car while being watched by automotive experts.”

Matthew’s success means he will now compete against technicians from Berkshire, Surrey, Nottinghamshire and Dumfries and Galloway in a number of more difficult challenges to try to prove himself number one in the country.

“Everyone at D&D Autos is delighted at how well Matthew has done,” said Lorraine. “To make it to the top five from a starting line up of more than 1,000 technicians nationwide is amazing.”

Matthew and Derek attended the Automechanika Birmingham awards ceremony last week to collect the Best Large Garage trophy, presented by TV presenter Fuzz Townshend.

“We entered the competition last year and made it to the top ten and we were very pleased to come away with the trophy this year,” explained Lorraine. “It reflects the hard work of each and every member of the team and the customer service that underpins what we do.”

A judging panel of industry specialists shortlisted 32 garages for the six award categories from an initial entry of more than 100 garages from across the UK.

James Onions, Managing Director of industry publisher Garage Wire, the event hosts, said the “quality and professionalism of the finalists made decisions incredibly tough” and declared the UK’s independent garage industry to be “in great shape”.