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Stewart Old – Driving Instructor – Oakham and Uppingham

After 20 years in Sales and Marketing which included many varying training roles, I saw the light and realised that it wasn’t sales that I was particularly interested in; what really motivated me was training people to achieve their goals and watch them develop newly found skills.

Over the years II’ve always had a great love of driving and so the combination of the two was an easy and simple choice!

It’s fair to say that I’ve always been competitive, whatever I do I’ve always tried to be the best I can be, so it figured that once I qualified as a Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), I would work to try to be the best possible instructor I could be.

I have subsequently undertaken significant additional training and development, to support the extensive practical experience and knowledge that I have gained as a trainer, for the benefit of everyone I train.

In true Top Gear style . . . .

Some say that I’m the best instructor they have ever had (actually this has been said by many of my pupils) and that I’m one of the funniest people they have known (in fairness it’s actually my Wife that said this)! It’s also been said that I can tell a story or twelve, have a good sense of humour and that I’ve got amazing levels of patience (well to be honest this is kind of essential in my job). All that I know is that I’m Stewart of JUST Driver Training.

Vanessa Solly – Driving Instructor – Oakham

What did you do before becoming a driving instructor?

Spend twenty years working in the Horticultural Industry as a product development manager and account management. Main roles designing hardware and packaging for plants and flowers, selling to supermarkets such as Morrisons to DIY stores like Homebase to online retailers like Next.

All in all, a very creative job keeping up with trends in a fast pace environment.

Why did you become a driving instructor?

I’ve always had a passion for cars and driving. Have always enjoyed working with people of all ages and helping them to develop. So being able to teach a skill that you are passionate about just felt so right. 

What do you enjoy about training people?

Seeing people develop new skills and achieving their end goal.

What’s your favourite car?

Audi RS4 Avant as a practical car and Aston Martin DB9 GT for a run around

What do you do when you’re not in the driving seat?

Spending quality time with my family and friends and getting out in the fresh air in the country side walking my two dogs.

What’s your pet hate on the Road?

People using mobile phones and vehicles not signalling on roundabouts

What’s your favourite holiday destination?

Tuscany in Italy, beautiful scenery, tasty food, good wine and great weather

Surprising fact about yourself?

I used to drive 7.5 tone lorries and forklift trucks in my early twenties

Richard Roe – Driving Instructor – Oakham

What did you do before becoming a driving instructor?

Upon graduating as a mechanical engineer I drove lorries, having got my HGV licence with the Army, whilst waiting to join the police. My 30 year career in the Met culminated with my role as a protection officer responsible for looking after high profile figures not just in a London but across the world. I was trained up to the highest police driving standard, Level 1 Pursuit-Trained Advanced Driver, which I passed with a Class 1 qualification for those who achieve over 90%. In addition to that I was anti-hijack trained in high-speed forward and reverse manoeuvres both within the police and as an external candidate on the BMW Security Driver Course in Templin, Germany.

I am now one of the minibus drivers for Oakham School where I live with my wife who is a housemistress.

Why did you become a driving instructor?

Amongst the many training courses I have taken over the course of my career, the most valuable were the driving courses. I saw how important it is to instil the knowledge and understanding of driving to not only make you a better driver but a much safer one too. I now aspire to be able to pass on some of what I know to people at the start of their driving careers so that they have that confidence to become a good and safe driver.

What do you enjoy about training people?

To be able to help develop a skill in somebody that will allow them to enjoy the freedom that driving brings is enormously rewarding. To ensure that they can do so safely is a privilege.

What’s your favourite car?

I am tempted to say any one of the myriad of prestige and specialist vehicles I have had the privilege of driving over the years, including armoured limousines and specially equipped off-road vehicles. On balance, however, as impressive as they are, it is impossible to drive them to their full capabilities on a public road.

My Fiat Panda 1.2 Easy, on the other hand, can be driven to its full capabilities on a public road. I bought it for a tiny price and found that without any enhancements, or even much power to be honest, it feels like driving in the raw. My three children learnt to drive in it and they realised how cool it was when they drove it to Tuscany on their own and then felt like locals when negotiating the tight bends in hilltop towns. My wife’s Fiat 124 Spider comes a close second, figuratively if not actually.

What do you do when you’re not in the driving seat?

Bicycle fettling and riding, in that order. I am a qualified bicycle mechanic and somehow in the course of my obsession I have acquired upwards of 13 of them, and possibly another few if I were to assemble all the spare parts I appear incapable of throwing out. I’ve ridden extensively across Western Europe.

What’s your pet hate on the road?

Impatience with cyclists and other vulnerable road users. For balance, I also dislike it when cyclists don’t take an opportunity to let cars overtake. Drivers not using mirrors, drivers who are aggressive, selfish, intolerant,…(how long have I got?).

What’s your favourite holiday destination?

Anywhere with my family. But if asked for a less sentimental answer I would say anywhere in Europe on a bicycle.

Surprising fact about yourself?

I am the only person in my family to have failed a driving test. I was a bag of nerves inside a 17 year old boy and asked the examiner which way he wanted me to turn when emerging left onto a one way street, 300 yards from the start at the test centre in Sale. On a positive note I know how anxious the prospect of a driving test can make you.