DREAM COME TRUE: Pennie Alexandra (right) with pupil Robyn Bartram at an MG showroom near her home. Image: Newspress ~ Newspress
LONDON, England - A near tragic crash gave Pennie Alexander a burning passion to teach youngsters to drive safely. She had almost given up on her ambition until a new MG3 turned made her dream a reality.
Her 18-year-old daughter Bobbie-Jo was involved in crash with a truck on a busy dual-carriageway, two weeks after she passed her driving test. Although Bobbie-Jo wasn’t seriously injured, the mangled wreck of her car was a complete write-off.
Alexander says her daughter was traumatised by the crash and it took weeks of patience, encouragement and coaching before Bobbie-Jo returned to driving.
The crash happened in 2009 and since then Alexander has dreamed of becoming a driving instructor. She explained: “I was a gymnastics coach for 15 years and always tried my hardest to get the best out of the gymnasts.
"I loved seeing them achieve new skills and missed the feeling of fulfillment knowing that I’d helped them accomplish their goals.
“Becoming a driving instructor was the obvious way for me to get that sense of gratification and to use my skills to help youngsters learn to drive.
“Bobbie-Jo’s accident was typical of so many involving youngsters, although not all young people are lucky enough to escape injuries. My belief is that you need to teach young drivers from an entirely different perspective than older people.”
HUNT FOR THE INSTRUCTOR'S CAR
Her dream of opening a special driving school dedicated to younger drivers near her home in Wisbech St Mary, Cambridgeshire in England, had to be put on hold.
She said: "There were always two major hurdles in my way – I just couldn’t find a car that I thought suitable for youngsters, and the cost of cars put the whole plan out the window."
She looked at a number of small cars but none came close to fitting the bill, until by chance she found out about the MG3. She was familiar with the automaker, having owned a MGF sports car for a few years
Alexander said: “I went for a test drive and just couldn’t believe it – the car was exactly what I wanted in every detail.
“I wanted a car that was simple to use and the MG3 ticked that box. I wanted a straightforward un-cluttered layout, and the MG3 was exactly that. I wanted a car that had plenty of vision and was good on clutch and accelerator controls and guess what, the MG3 scored there too.
“I think I would have done the deal there and then anyway because no other car I’d tried came anywhere close. But when they told me the price – that was it, I was dumbfounded.”
She founded her own driving school, Dare2Drive, and teaches young learner drivers. Alexander hopes to make contact with schools in eastern England to set up off-road teaching for 14 to 17-year-olds.
She said: “Driving can be a formidable experience for youngsters, but my method of teaching means that even youngsters who have never sat in a driving seat before can start to learn the techniques about car control. That allows them to very quickly build confidence and then they are open-minded about all the key safety messages my method is founded on.
“To be honest, I don’t think I could make this progress so quickly in any other car. It’s because the MG3 is easy to drive, doesn’t distract their concentration, has a brilliant stereo, and fantastic door mirrors giving excellent visibility. For me, and my students, the MG3 is just perfect.”