Hampshire driving instructor Louise Walsh is the inspiration behind ‘The Big Learner Relay for Children in Need’ planned for November this year. This two week event, now in its fifth year, features driving instructors and pupils across the country all getting together to raise money for Children in Need.
Driving Instructors will be relaying a top box, (the kind that driving instructors have on the roof of their cars), from one driving lesson to another around England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The relay starts with a day in Jersey on Monday 29th October followed by a day in Northern Ireland on Wednesday 31st October. The top box will then continue its convoy around the rest of the UK from Friday 2nd November. The grand finale will be a lap or two around Silverstone Race Circuit on Friday 16th November, which is the Children in Need Appeal Day 2018 – 17 days, 3000+ miles, over 190 lead driving lessons and many thousands of instructors and pupils joining the convoy!
With many months of planning, the route will cover in the region of 3,000 miles and driving instructors have been preparing to take part since May. Each instructor will come up with ways to raise funds in whichever way works for them, their pupils and their businesses. Some are getting together and are going to do something as a local group, some are working with local driving instructor associations and some are just doing things within their franchises or on their own. Ideas so far include sponsored lessons, fancy dress lessons, PJs for Pudsey and car washes. But by far the biggest fundraiser is ‘sponsor a spot’. Pupils, businesses and the general public are donating money to sign a coloured spot and stick it on the instructor’s car. Keep your eyes peeled for spotty cars across the UK.
In 2014, our first year, the total raised was over £65,000. This was £60,000 more than we believed we would achieve. Since then The Big Learner Relay for Children in Need has raised over £300,000.
We have a selection of driving Instructors that are involved on a more committed level by being lead cars. This is to ensure that every leg of the relay has a confirmed instructor and pupil in place to carry the top box to ensure the relay runs without a break in the chain.
The lead cars demonstrate the diversity in this profession; independent schools, franchises both national and local, Instructor trainers, instructors teaching in diesel, petrol and electric cars and instructors who specialise in teaching people with disabilities. Instructors in every part of the country are planning on joining the relay and convoying behind the top box lead car.
Not wanting to miss out on any of the fun, Louise is travelling the whole of the UK route in the back of each lead car’s lesson. She comments: “I am so looking forward to meeting the hundreds of participating instructors, taking photos, cheering the convoy on, updating the live feeds, communicating with the media and wearing my Big Learner Relay hoodie with pride as we travel around the country.”
The fifth year of the Big Learner Relay promises to be even bigger and better than the previous four years. The grand final will be held on Friday 16th November. We would like to thank Silverstone and the BBC for their ongoing support of the Big Learner Relay.
For more information on how to get involved please visit www.biglearnerrelay.co.uk