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Who's On Air?
BBC Radio Devon's Alec Benford
Sunday: 6pm - 7pm
Alec Benford became a popular local celebrity as a voice behind Radio Devon's morning travel reports. Now the former police officer keeps it country on Sunday and Wednesday evenings.
Former police sergeant Alec Benford found a new lease of life in retirement, first as a voice of BBC Radio Devon's travel news bulletins, and now as presenter of Big Al's Country.
In 2006, he decided it was time to ditch the early starts and turn his attention to another of his great passions - country music.
Every Sunday from 6pm, Alec offers a selection of your requests, country classics from the likes of Merle Haggard and Hank Williams and a guide to what's happening on the country scene in Devon.
What's more, the regular "My Kinda' Country" feature is a chance for you to sit back with Big Al himself and discuss your favourite country tunes and get your favourites played on air.
If you'd like to feature on the programme, you can contact Alec on the form at the bottom of the page.
Alec was born and brought up in the Pennycomequick area of Plymouth and, at 17 years of age, joined the Royal Air Force police.
During his service he was stationed in Essex, Wiltshire, Lincolnshire and Shropshire in the UK, as well as seeing service overseas in places such as Cyprus, Libya and Berlin.
At the age of 26, Alec completed his RAF service and joined the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary.
He started his police career at Devonport in Plymouth. After two years on response duties he joined the CID, where he spent the next six years investigating the full range of crimes from murder to petty theft.
Alec with his former travel colleagues
Alec was then promoted to sergeant and moved with his family to Exeter, where he was posted as a traffic sergeant; it was this job that introduced him to the wonderful world of broadcasting.
As a result of recording a short piece on road safety, Alec was invited by BBC Radio Devon to become a member of P.L.O.D - the Police Liaison Officers for Devon.
Together with colleague Bob Daw, they took part in a regular phone-in slot which lasted seven years.
In the meantime, Alec was working as an observer on the force helicopter and devising a road safety roadshow which just grew and grew.
This was extremely successful and went a long way toward reducing the accident rate in both Devon and Cornwall.
A very proud moment for Alec and his family was when he was awarded the British Empire Medal by Her Majesty, the Queen, for services to road safety amongst other things.
It was then he was offered the job of group commander of the VIP Escort Group. Over the next 10 years he escorted members of the Royal Family, government ministers, visiting royalty and politicians from abroad.
Alec retired at the age of 55, dreaming of long, lazy days on the golf course and a carefree existence - but it was not to be, because along came BBC Radio Devon.
He retired on a Friday at 5pm and started work the next Monday at 5am - some retirement!
Now Big Al's Country rides into town every Sunday from 6pm, and there's another chance to listen to the programme on Wednseday evening at 6pm. Ye-har!
last updated: 01/04/2008 at 17:09