Jamestown's Ian Thomas has been an RAA member for 64 years - with one call-out

SERVICE: Jamestown driver Ian Thomas accepts a book about the RAA from the organisation's president, Liz Perry, at a morning tea at the Northern Festival Centre in Port Pirie.
SERVICE: Jamestown driver Ian Thomas accepts a book about the RAA from the organisation's president, Liz Perry, at a morning tea at the Northern Festival Centre in Port Pirie.

In 64 years of Royal Automobile Association membership, Jamestown's Ian Thomas had only one call-out.

But he says that proved the worth of being involved with the roadside-help service - and about 150 other Gold 50 members from the state's northern districts would agree.

Mr Thomas spoke after being acknowledged as the longest-serving member of the group of card-holders who have notched up 50 years' membership.

He received a book titled Rebel on Wheels about the RAA from the organisation's president, Liz Perry.

The Gold 50s were recognised at a morning tea at the Northern Festival Centre in Port Pirie on Thursday.

Mr Thomas, 80, a retired well-driller, said he had travelled around the country in his job and that was why he joined the organisation.

"I only had one call-out and it was in the 1990s. I had to go to a medical appointment in Ward Street, North Adelaide, and I had a WB Statesman car," he said.

"I could not find a park and when I did I was late. I jumped out of the car and locked the keys inside.

"When I got to the doctor's I got the girl to ring the RAA.

"The technician was unable to get the door unlocked and tried the back doors.

"I told him the back doors had Commodore locks and the front doors had Kingswood ones. I don't know how I knew that.

"When I told him it was a Commodore lock he soon got it unlocked."

He said he had been grateful to the RAA because he did not want to break one of the car windows to get inside.

"It is a different story today. They seem to be able to break into them quite easily. I would not know where to start with that," he said.

"I have always known the RAA is there if I do break down. It is a good insurance policy."

The organisation's president, Liz Perry, said it was a great honour to have such a loyal member as Mr Thomas.

"Stories such as his inspire our staff to provide the best service that we can," she said.

Ms Perry led a presentation of the work of the organisation at the morning tea and outlined its plans.

She said members were told how they could book a ride in a driverless car being developed at Flinders University.

"It was a wonderful time to meet members and hear what they have to say about the service and their ideas about road safety," she said.

Ms Perry is the second woman to lead the organisation and second female president of the Australian Automobile Association.

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