A Huddersfield driving school has just taken on its oldest pupil.
Pete Tiernan and Nigel Deans, of Huddersfield Driving Experience, are more accustomed to getting 10 to 16-year-olds behind the wheel of a car and teaching them the basics at the Stadium car park before they are old enough to go on the road.
But today Nigel, of Longwood, gave a one-hour lesson to 92-year-old Betty Jones.
She hadn’t been behind the wheel of a car for over half a century, having previously had five provisional licences but never learned to drive properly.
Betty had to break off from her hectic schedule to travel to the Leeds Road car park with daughter, Andrea Lorriman, for the lesson.
Mondays are normally taken up with a sewing class, followed by a trip to the gym and then a weigh-in at her slimming club in the evening.
She has also recently started swimming lessons.
The day hadn’t got off to a great start for the great grandmother. A keen baker, she was annoyed at having slightly overcooked five fruit cakes.
Betty hit the national headlines and appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain this summer when she lost seven stones with Slimming World.
She’s slimmed down from 17 stones at her heaviest to just over 10 stones.
When asked if there was anything still on her bucket list, she said she’d like to drive a car, and Pet and Nigel were called in to help.
Before the lesson in bright sunshine Betty said: “I can’t see, I should have brought my sunglasses!
“I am a bit apprehensive; I’ve got butterflies.
“I lack a bit of confidence, but there is a car parked on my drive waiting for me.”
The nonagenarian drove steadily around the car park and soon mastered first and second gears. However, the emergency stop was considered a manoeuvre too far at this early stage.
After the lesson instructor Nigel said: “Betty was very good; brilliant. She has got over her butterflies and driven with some confidence.”
Betty, of Carlton, Barnsley, said: “It was lovely. My butterflies settled and it was very good.
“I think it would be a little bit easier in an automatic. I’d love to take to the road.”
Daughter Andrea added: “Mum is very active, she’s hardly ever in the house; she has a better social life than me!
“She does so many classes, she’s a keen baker, she goes to the gym three or four times a week and helps me at my craft shop.
“We’ve had to leave mum’s gym stuff at my house so she can go straight to the gym after the driving lesson.”
Pete, of Fartown, said: “Betty has got us thinking. Although we normally run the off-road sessions for under 17s, there must be a lot of older people who would like to have a go at driving, but who are terrified of going out on the open road – my 84-year-old father-in-law, for one.”
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