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Birthday celebrations boosted by national award

A family-run Ashford garage is celebrating its 35th anniversary with the news that its senior diagnostic technician is one of the best in the country.

Matthew Pestridge, who works at D&D Autos, based in Moat Way, Orbital Park, narrowly missed out on being named Top Technician 2018 after a nationwide competition that saw five finalists undergo a series of fault-finding challenges.

D&D Autos operations manager Lorraine Fuller said Matthew had been pipped at the post by a technician from Berkshire after pitting his diagnostic skills against the best in the country.

Almost 1,000 technicians took the initial online test before being whittled down to a top five, whose skills were assessed by a team of industry experts.

“We are all delighted at how well Matthew has done,” said Lorraine. “We were impressed when he made it through to the top five, but to finish as runner-up is remarkable.”

One person who was quick to add his congratulations was Dr Paul White, who has been a D&D Autos customer ever since the business was set up by founder Derek Pestridge in Victoria Road, Ashford, in 1983.

He popped in to share a 35th birthday cup cake with Lorraine and Derek – who has become more of a friend than his local garage owner over the years – and recalled that the first vehicle he had entrusted to their care was a VW camper.

The former GP, who now lives in Rye, has since taken all his vehicles to D&D Autos, with the most recent being a VW Touran and a Skoda Fabia.

“I continued to bring my vehicles to Derek and his team simply because I have had outstanding service over the years and simply can’t fault them,” he said. “I’ve never had a problem – and they make good coffee!

“When you need your car looked after it’s important to find a garage you can trust – and once you’ve found it, you should stick to it. I’m delighted to wish D&D a very happy 35th birthday and to congratulate Matthew on his success.”