Crown Suzuki Sales Executive becomes first individual to win The Motor Ombudsman’s National Garage Star Award
- Luke Laurence, a Sales Executive at the Crown Suzuki dealership in Hendon, North London, has become the first individual to win The Motor Ombudsman’s National Garage Star Award
- The annual accolades, launched in 2020, recognise Motor Ombudsman-accredited businesses and staff members working for these organisations that have gone the extra mile in the eyes of consumers
- A record 3,186 online customer nominations were received in 2023, from which a shortlist of 24 entries was created by The Motor Ombudsman across eight UK regions
- Luke Laurence was named by judges as the winner of the Garage Star Award for the South, and went on claim the contest’s top prize and £1,000 in high street vouchers
- The coveted trophy was formally presented in-person for the first time in a partnership debut with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)’s prestigious Hero Awards ceremony at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster
The Motor Ombudsman is pleased to announce that Luke Laurence, a Sales Executive at the Crown Suzuki dealership in Hendon, North London, has been named the very first individual winner of the National Garage Star Award – the top prize in the Ombudsman’s annual Star Awards competition. The trophy was formally presented for the first time in-person at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)’s Hero Awards ceremony at the Houses of Parliament, in a partnership debut with the prestigious event.
Launched in 2020 amidst the pandemic, the annual Star Awards recognise Motor Ombudsman-accredited businesses and staff members working for these organisations, who have gone the extra mile to help customers when buying a car, having it maintained, or at the time of making a purchase or a claim on a warranty.
For the 2023 Star Awards, 3,186 online nominations were received from customers up and down the UK – a new record for the competition, and more than double the number seen last year. From these short accounts submitted by consumers, which highlighted how a business or an individual staff member went above and beyond to assist them, a shortlist of three finalists was drawn up by The Motor Ombudsman for each of this year’s eight regional Garage Star Awards.
The shortlist of 24 contenders was then passed to a four-strong judging panel to reach a joint consensus as to the names to be etched on this year’s regional trophies, and which would be celebrated as being highly commended. In what was a closely-fought contest, four individual team members working at separate dealerships, two car showrooms, and two independent garages, emerged victorious as this year’s winners. They included Luke Laurence in the southern region, chosen for going above and beyond during the purchase of a vehicle by a customer who had recently moved from another country, and where English was not their native language.
To determine which of the regional trophy winners would be crowned the overall National Garage Star, the eight regional Star Award recipients from across the UK, and their respective winning entries from consumers, were once again put before the judges, and pitted against one another to be re-evaluated based on their own merits. From the ‘class of 2023’, it was the nomination for Luke Laurence that unanimously caught the attention of the panel, meaning the North London Sales Executive was bestowed the title of National Garage Star, receiving £1,000 in high street vouchers in recognition of his exceptional achievement.
In addition, a new feature for this year’s Star Awards competition was a partnership with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)’s Hero Awards ceremony at the Houses of Parliament, where the National Garage Star Award winner was presented with their silverware by The Motor Ombudsman in-person for the first time to mark the special occasion. The CTSI’s annual event, which this year, was themed around ‘partnerships’, celebrates remarkable individuals or groups of people who have made outstanding contributions, with Luke Laurence being such an example.
Receiving the trophies, Luke Laurence, Sales Executive at Crown Suzuki, said: “I am delighted to have won both a regional trophy and the highest accolade in this year’s Star Awards out of the thousands of nominations submitted by customers during the past few months. I always make a point of doing whatever I can to ensure the highest level of customer service and satisfaction, and I am very honoured to have been publicly recognised for my hard work and dedication to my role. In addition, to have received the awards at the Houses of Parliament at such a prestigious ceremony, makes this a very memorable and special achievement.”
Bill Fennell, Chief Ombudsman and Managing Director of The Motor Ombudsman, said: “Luke’s relentless pursuit of going the extra mile and determination to think outside the box to find the best possible solution for the consumer, made him a very worthy recipient of our National Garage Star Award and the regional Garage Star Award for the South. It was a privilege to present the trophies to him at the CTSI Hero Awards at such a special and memorable event.”
Bill added: “We would also like to congratulate all of this year’s winners and highly commended entries, as well as the many Motor Ombudsman-accredited businesses and team members who were nominated by customers. It has been encouraging to see so many examples of individuals who excel in their work across the country, and who go above and beyond what would normally be expected of them.”
For this year’s Customer Service Star Awards, which recognise Motor Ombudsman-accredited vehicle manufacturers and vehicle warranty providers and team members that have gone the extra mile for their customers, the judging panel named Genesis Motor UK, and The Motoring Organisation, as the respective winners.
For more information on The Motor Ombudsman’s Star Awards, visit www.TheMotorOmbudsman.org/Awards.
Notes to editors
2023 Garage Star Award winners and highly commended entries
The businesses and individuals crowned regional Garage Star Award winners in 2023, and those which were highly commended, were:
- NORTH: Ian Gibbs, Senior Customer Experience Specialist at Kendal Honda (Cumbria), for taking the time to reassure a nervous car buyer during the purchase process.
Highly commended: A J Fleetcare (Leeds, Yorkshire) and Drive MG Hull (Yorkshire)
- SOUTH: Luke Laurence, Sales Executive at Crown Suzuki (Hendon, London), for going above and beyond during the purchase of a vehicle by a customer who had recently moved from another country.
Highly commended: AAK Auto Services (Whitstable, Kent) and Protyre Sittingbourne (Kent)
- EAST: Dean Lovell, Motability Specialist at Wings ŠKODA Peterborough (Cambridgeshire), for going to great lengths to ensure that the customer’s individual mobility needs were met.
Highly commended: John Banks Honda (Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk) and My Next Car (Sandy, Bedfordshire)
- WEST: Cadley Garage (Marlborough, Wiltshire), for tending to a customer’s vehicle at very short notice amidst a very busy schedule, thereby allowing a rapid diagnosis and repair.
Highly commended: Express Motor Workshop (Amesbury, Wiltshire) and Ferris Garage (Truro, Cornwall)
- THE MIDLANDS: Vertu Honda Mansfield (Nottinghamshire), for the care and compassion shown to a customer that encountered a family bereavement whilst at the business’s premises.
Highly commended: RJM Motor Repairs (Grantham, Lincolnshire) and Vertu Volkswagen Lincoln (Lincolnshire)
- NORTHERN IRELAND: Donnelly & Taggart Ballymena (County Antrim), for fitting in a customer’s vehicle service at very short notice, and for repairing subsequent issues raised with the vehicle within the space of a few hours prior to the car’s MOT.
Highly commended: Graeme Blevins at Saltmarine Cars (Dungannon, County Tyrone) and TrustFord Ballymena (County Antrim)
- SCOTLAND: Jonathan Bulloch, Master Technician at Henrys Honda (Glasgow, Lanarkshire), for taking time out to take a test drive with a customer to help prevent mechanical issues reoccurring to their vehicle in the future.
Highly commended: Neil Johnstone at Anderson Clark Motor Repairs (Inverness, Inverness-shire) and W Livingstone Ltd (Glasgow, Lanarkshire)
- WALES: Garej Arwyn Cyf (Caernarfon, Gwynedd), for assisting a customer out of hours late on a Sunday evening, after their vehicle broke down, and providing a courtesy car to allow their safe return home.
Highly commended: Cardiff Honda (South Glamorgan) and Terry’s Auto Repairs (Wrexham, Denbighshire)
National Garage Star Award winners – Hall of Fame
2023: Luke Laurence, Sales Executive at Crown Suzuki, Hendon, North London (individual team member)
2022: Roadside (Garages) Kia, Coleraine, Northern Ireland (franchise car dealership)
2021: The Garage (Whitburn), Whitburn, Scotland (independent garage)
2020: Dukes AutoTech, St Austell, Cornwall (independent garage)
Judging panel for The Motor Ombudsman’s 2023 Star Awards
Bill Fennell: Chief Ombudsman and Managing Director, The Motor Ombudsman (Host Judge)
Neil Barlow: Head of MOT Policy, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)
Ben Coates: Editor, Garage Talk Online
Louise Savage: Consumer Codes & ADR Manager at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)
About the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)’s Hero Awards
Now in their 18th year, the CTSI Hero Awards celebrate remarkable individuals or groups of people who make outstanding contributions towards consumer protection in communities and safeguarding business to ensure a level playing field. Every year, they are inspired by the stories of nominees throughout the country whose bravery, altruism and hard work often goes unnoticed.
For more information on the CTSI Hero Awards, visit www.TradingStandards.uk/practitioners/ctsi-events/ctsi-hero-awards.
CTSI media contact:
Policy and Campaigns Executive
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute
Telephone: +44 (0)1268 582204