From today, AA members who break down in the Scottish Highlands will be met with the welcome sight of a ‘Highland Patrol’. The AA is bringing back the iconic name in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year at the request of local patrols, almost 60 years after it was first introduced. The Highland Patrol name disappeared in 1992 when the AA universally adopted new vehicle livery and patrol uniforms as part of its then new ‘4th emergency service’ branding. As well having the Highland Patrol name on their vehicles, the team has been trained in 4x4 driving and equipped with a specially-adapted Land Rover Defender to assist in extreme weather.
AA Highland Patrol Kenny Fraser, says, 'It was the idea of the local patrols to bring back the Highland Patrol name and it seemed only fitting to do so in the Jubilee year. Although times have moved on, we still like to uphold the values of wearing the uniform and giving the best possible service to our members.'
The Highland Patrol force was formed on 1st June 1953 to cope with increasing tourist traffic in the north of Scotland, operating mainly beyond the Caledonian Canal. The job was arduous in winter as blizzards blocked roads and stranded vehicles, making the Land Rover the ideal vehicle for the AA, as it moved from exposed motorcycle-sidecar combinations to covered vans. Working in remote areas covering some of the highest classified roads in the UK also tested patrols’ abilities, requiring them to be hardy and resourceful and attending isolated breakdowns often demanded imaginative, improvised repairs. However, the work of the early Highland Patrols was not confined to assisting motorists. The AA’s pioneering two-way short-wave radio system provided a vital communications link for remote Highland communities during winter and many a crofter welcomed a patrol carrying food parcels as their first contact with the outside world after days of heavy snow.
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