• Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

North East Connected

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Former driving instructor takes a drive down memory lane

Bannatyne-Driving-Instructor

A DRIVING instructor who taught hundreds from Peterlee to Hartlepool in career spanning almost two decades took to the road once again – more than 15 years after retiring.

Derek Sinden, 83, qualified as an instructor in 1988 and ran the Peterlee School of Motoring until his retirement in 2007.

After moving to Bannatyne Lodge Care Home, on Manor Way, Peterlee, staff learned how he helped hundreds of drivers from the area pass their driving tests.

The care home’s activities coordinator, Dawn Minto, therefore arranged for driving instructor Mick Jones, of Mick Jones School of Motoring, to take Derek out on the route he used to take learners and to the Hartlepool Test Centre.

Derek had driven the route thousands of times in his Nissan Sunny, so the experience brought back fond memories.

He said: “What a wonderful surprise. Mick took me to Hartlepool and, on the way, we drove along the routes I used to use for the learners. It was great.

“We talked about the changes to the tests and about the different manoeuvres, especially how to parallel park, as no one ever wanted to do that.”

Dawn added: “We thought it would be nice for Derek to get back in a car and be taken on his old route by Mick, who gladly agreed.

“You could see it meant so much to Derek and he was beaming from ear to ear when he returned to the care home.”

Derek was born in Hartlepool and moved to Peterlee in 1963. After taking over the Peterlee School of Motoring in the late 80s, he appeared in the local newspaper when he invested hundreds of pounds upgrading his Nissan Sunny so he could instruct drivers with disabilities.

Derek’s daughter, Angie Calvert, recalled one of the stories her father recounted about his instructor days.

She said: “He used to tell me about a time he took a pupil out for a lesson and dad dropped his pencil onto the car floor.

“He went to pick it up and, at the same time, the learner also leant over to get it while he was supposed to be driving. At this point, dad grabbed the wheel in a panic.

“He said it will stick with him forever, laughing that his life flashed before him.”

Julie Armstrong, home manager at Bannatyne Lodge Care Home, said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to Mick Jones for taking Derek out for a drive around his Peterlee and Hartlepool instructor route.

“Person-centred care is at the heart of everything we do at Bannatyne Lodge Care Home, learning about residents’ likes and dislikes, their histories and hobbies, and catering activities accordingly.

“Dawn did a fantastic job organising this for Derek and you could see afterwards how much he enjoyed himself. I’m sure it brought back lots of wonderful memories, helping hundreds of drivers in the area to get their licenses over his 25 year career.”