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Crichton and Lowndes honoured

Winning smile: Neville Crichton celebrated his birthday this week with one of New Zealand’s top honours.

Neville Crichton and Craig Lowndes receive Queen's birthday honours

General News logo7 Jun 2012

UPDATED: 11/06/2012QUEEN’S Birthday honours announced in recent days in Australia and New Zealand have included automotive industry businessman Neville Crichton and motor racing champion Craig Lowndes.

Mr Crichton, who is Ateco Automotive Group executive chairman, was last week honoured as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for his services to yachting and business.

The CNZM was a timely birthday present for Mr Crichton, who turned 67 the same day that the NZ Queen’s Birthday and Diamond Jubilee Honours List was announced.

This week’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List for Australia included recognition for Mr Lowndes, who was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division “for service to motor racing and to the community, particularly through road safety education programs and charitable organisations”.

A five-time Bathurst 1000 winner and three-time V8 Supercar champion, Mr Lowndes has used his high profile to promote road safety and a wide variety of community issues over many years.

The 37-year-old has been an ambassador for the RSPCA since 2005 and, for the past two years, a child-protection advocate through his involvement in the national ‘White Balloon Day’ campaign known as ‘Bravehearts’.

He has also been involved in campaigns for the prevention of violence against women, and zero-tolerance campaigns for speeding and drink driving.

 center imageLeft: Craig Lowndes.

Mr Lowndes described the award as a “totally unexpected and tremendous honour”.

“I am very flattered and slightly humbled by this,” he said. “I certainly didn’t see it coming.

“To be honoured by your fellow Australians in this way is pretty special and I appreciate very much everyone’s support both today, and right through my career.

“Road safety is the number one social issue we deal with every day of our lives, and it’s something we can never stop working to improve.”

Mr Crichton presides over what is billed as the largest independent motor vehicle importer in both Australia and New Zealand, with Ateco responsible on both sides of ‘the ditch’ for Citroen, Chery, Great Wall and, via sister company European Automotive Imports, Ferrari and Maserati.

Ateco is also responsible for Lotus in Australia and managed the affairs of Fiat and Alfa Romeo here before Chrysler Group Australia – now known as the Fiat Chrysler Group – took control on May 1.

The NZ-born executive is well known for his yachting achievements and patronage in both countries, racking up 174 ocean racing wins to date in Europe, the US and Australia – including the Sydney to Hobart yacht race – and playing a key role in New Zealand’s super-yacht construction industry.

He has also helped train and support up-and-coming sailors.

“I am extremely proud to receive this honour,” said Mr Crichton. “It is a privilege to have one’s work and sporting endeavours recognised by the wider community.”

The New Zealand Order of Merit is awarded to those who “in any field of endeavour, have rendered meritorious service to the Crown and the nation or who have become distinguished by their eminence, talents, contributions or other merits”.

Mr Crichton began his automotive business career with Ford in New Zealand before moving to the US, where he had retail and wholesale interests in Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Audi, Mazda and Volkswagen.

He took over Ateco in 1985, taking it from a small general engineering and import business to a significant independent distributor that has attracted a variety of global automotive brands, including Volkswagen, Audi, Suzuki and Kia.

The multi-millionaire is also actively involved in luring new companies to the stable, particularly brands from China.

Ateco is also the retail supplier for Ferrari and Maserati in New South Wales, has an equipment division that distributes WARN off-road equipment and RidePRO suspension, and operates a property division responsible for a range of commercial and retail buildings.

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