Real Life

The truck driver of the year – who’s also a father of 12

Andy Meads might be the best in the business - but his family are his number one prize.

Andy Meads often refers to the prizes in his life – his 12 children, his soon-to-be five grandchildren and his beloved wife of 31 years, Lyn.

But the 58-year-old truckie can now count another prize, one which sits proudly in his Palmerston North home – Countdown’s Truck Driver of the Year!

“I was so taken aback,” he remarks of the win. “It was an incredible thing for me. I’d have to go back 31 years to the last time I won anything and that’s when I won the heart of my wife. She was the greatest prize – the greatest thing I’ve ever won. “And then 12 beautiful prizes came along the way.”

From left: Daughter-in-law Raewyn (25), Jacob (29) holding wee daughter Abbigail (1), Lillian (8), Tobias (17), Lyn (50), Andy, Josie (19), Jed (15), Maggie (12) and Ethan (10).

Andy is a true hard-working, heartland treasure with a very supportive – and large – family behind him, with the Meads brood ranging in age from eight to 30 years old.

With such a big family comes ups and downs, and in fact, the same week Andy – who has driven for Linfox for eight years – was acknowledged with his award, his 17-year-old son Tobias was in hospital. That meant Andy’s wife Lyn stayed back in Palmerston North to be with their son, rather than attending the celebrations.

Tobias has battled a rare cancer in the soft tissue in his neck called rhabdomyosarcoma since the age of two.

“My son is probably the best example to me of someone who is content in his situation – he doesn’t make a fuss,” tells Andy.

The pair has spent 31 happy years married.

Thankfully, Tobias is in remission, but chemotherapy and radiotherapy over the years have taken a toll on his bones, especially his spine, which was corrected through surgery.

“It has been tough but also rewarding,” says Andy. “The whole family has hunkered through it.”

The hard-working dad’s week starts at 4.30am on a Monday, from which time he can clock up anywhere between a 10 and 13-hour day from Monday to Friday. Then he finishes at midday on a Saturday, ready to relax with his family.

“I sleep well, that’s for sure,” he laughs. “Sunday afternoons are a relaxing time. Once a month, we join another family and go to an old folks’ home in Feilding and sing some songs and hymns for the residents there.”

On their wedding day.

Gobsmacked is how the humble dad describes his reaction to learning he had been nominated by the staff he delivers to daily.

“I don’t know what I’ve done specially to be nominated because I feel like I’m just doing my duty. So many drivers could have been up for it – we all give it our best,” he insists.

The nomination and win meant Andy was flown up to Auckland to be wined and dined, a generous gesture that left the dad speechless.

“It was an amazing event. I’d never stayed in a hotel!”

Even though Tobias and Lyn spent the night of the event in hospital, the teen has been able to see how happy the award has made his dad.

“He works hard and that’s cool,” he tells. “He’s been walking on air for the past few weeks!”

Modest Andy says any one of his driving colleagues could’ve won.

Through Tobias’ bad days and painful operations, the words of his dad would lift his spirits.

“Dad has always taught me to be grateful for what we do have. It’s really important you see that the only way is up, you can’t go any lower than your bad days.”

Having raised 12 children with her husband on their sprawling lifestyle block, Lyn says she couldn’t be prouder of Andy.

“It’s been nice for him to have all the hard work he puts in recognised – he deserves it,” she says. “He talks so well of the guys he delivers to, so they’ve been so lovely to put him forward for this honour.”

True to form, Andy is quick to brush off the praise and offload it onto his family and colleagues.

“I have some great examples in my superiors and colleagues who are all passionate, my children all get on well and my wife is wonderful. Life is great!”

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