Former Forecourt Trader of the Year winner Darren Lawrence is “devastated” to be leaving his beloved Total-branded Flamstead End forecourt in Hertfordshire, after 21 years service.

Total decided to take back the site after commission operator Darren turned down a new contract that he felt was unviable.

“There were some parts of the new contract that looked positive, but the stumbling block was the extra £60,000-a– year cost of shop fees. No way could I cover that. But there was no negotiation on those costs.

“I leave on April 12 and have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do – I may have to get a ‘proper’ job! But I won’t work on a petrol station again. I feel it would be tinged with sadness.

“Flamstead End is a very special site, with fabulous, enthusiastic staff and great customers. I have made many personal friends here – people I go to football with and socialise with generally. They are all people I have met through the garage. They have been a big support for our many charity events.”

Darren joined the site as manager in 1990 and became a commission operator in 1995. He is the only commission operator to have won the Forecourt Trader of the Year award, which he did in 1999.

“That was the absolute highlight of my time at Flamstead End. It was such an honour – the proudest day of my life next to having my kids. It was recognition for all the hard work that has gone on at the site.

“It has got harder to make a good living – there is a lot of competition around here, such as a new Tesco Express and a new Londis. But we were doing well considering.”

Darren leaves the site on April 12, but will be leaving behind one of the site’s most loyal employees – assistant manager Ron Penn continues at the site after 32 years service.