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Jobs on Sunday: Driving ambition.


WHEN Alan Dines found himself driving the Queen and Princess Diana around Birmingham he could hardly believe his luck.

Because just over a year earlier he had been working an ordinary nine-to-five job as a quantity surveyor.

Butheand his PA partner Sue switched careers when the opportunity to buy the chauffeuring business came up.

The couple married a year later in 1988 -and now run one of the most successful chauffeur firms in the country.

'When the chauffeuring business came up we knew it was a gamble,' says Alan.

'But we thought it was a gamble worth taking.'

The couple run Woodland Chauffeur Drive from their home in Northfield, Birmingham.

When they bought the firm -originally founded in 1936 - back in 1987, they dealt mainly with weddings and funerals. The couple then set about expanding the business by securing high-profile clients such as the Royal Family and the British Government.

Towin the VIP contracts, Alan enrolled in driving and anti-terrorism courses with West Midlands Police and he has been chauffeuring famous names ever since.

'We drive all the dignitaries who visit the area -Government ministers as well as the Royals,' he says.

'We've driven the Princess Royal, Prince Charles and Princess Margaret to official engagements.

'But my personal highlights were driving the Queen, Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher.'

And the couple, who have two children - Emma, aged 15, and 10 year-old Lucy, have never regretted their move to Birmingham.

'It has been great to see Birmingham grow as a city while we have lived here,' says Alan. 'And we like to think in our own way that our business has helped.

'For instance, we drove the Queen to the opening of Birmingham's International Convention Centre.

'We also chauffeured the Duchess of York to the Terminal Two opening at Birmingham International Airport.'

So what makes a good chauffeur?

'Organisation is the most important aspect of a good service,' says Alan.

'But of course you have to be professional, friendly and discreet at all times.

'We're stopping our wedding service altogether now and we're concentrating on the chauffeuring because that side of the business is booming.'

Alan says it is the variety of the job that keeps him interested.

'Every day is different,' he adds. 'You often don't know exactly where you're going to be or whoyou are going to be driving.'


YES MA'AM: Alan Dines has driven for Diana, Princess of Wales
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:May 2, 2004
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