Thursday, June 20, 2024
David Foster of Calgary's Ambassador Limousine Service was presented with the "White Hat Award" as 2024 Driver of the Year by Tourism Calgary. Image: White Hat Awards

David Foster named Calgary’s “Driver of the Year”

80-year-old limo driver presented with White Hat Award

David Foster spent decades teaching defensive driving in the Alberta oil fields before he became a limo driver at age 70. Now 80, he sees to reason to stop working. Photo: White Hat Awards

“That was just about the longest walk ever, with a whole auditorium of people watching your every step!” laughs David Foster. “We were up on the first balcony, so when they finally did call my name, I had to walk down all those stairs. I was thinking, ‘Just don’t do a face plant! Don’t face plant!’”

Foster, 80 years young and still brimming with enthusiasm, was presented with the White Hat Award as “Driver of the Year” by Tourism Calgary at this year’s event, held May 14th at the Jubilee Centre. He was nominated by Ambassador Limousine for the award, which has been presented annually for 61 years.

Foster told Taxi News that his service philosophy is to make sure and provide tourists with solid background on Calgary’s highlights during their trip from the airport, which usually lasts about half an hour.

“I explain to them the history of Calgary, Fort Calgary, the museums…Calgary has 621 miles of bike paths! Tourists really enjoy and appreciate the information.”

Business clients, he notes, are usually completely focused on their phones: “They just got off the plane and they are texting, texting, texting…. they don’t want any conversation at.” His business is split about 70/30, tourism/business.

Foster’s spent his earlier career as a defensive driving instructor in Alberta’s oil patch, working for a safety company. When he retired from that job, he played four or five rounds of golf per week until about ten years ago, when his wife gently suggested that perhaps he should look for a second career. That’s when he began driving limo, and discovered that he loves it.

“I never get tired of the drive from the airport to Banff,” he says. “I only wish I had started ten years sooner.”

Foster points out that given the length of the drive and the money people are paying for the trip, “There needs to be something besides silence in the vehicle…there is so much for tourists to know about what they’re seeing.”

In addition to the Smithbilt White Hat awarded, winners receive a gold lapel pin which they can wear on the job every day. Foster plans to continue working as long as he can: “I’m completely mobile. There’s no reason for me to stop.”

His advice to young people just starting out is, “Make sure that whatever you do, you love. When you’re doing something you don’t care about, it’s pretty stressful.”

Calgary White Hat Awards “recognize excellence in Calgary’s tourism and hospitality industry, recognizing employees who go above and beyond to create unforgettable experiences for guests and visitors.” 

Click the white arrow at left to view the video of Foster’s award presentation. Video: YouTube