A near tragic accident gave Pennie Alexander a burning passion to teach youngsters to drive safely.
But she had almost given up on her ambition until a new MG3 turned Pennie’s dream into reality and has changed her life around.
Just two weeks after Pennie’s daughter Bobbie-Jo passed her driving test, Bobbie-Jo was involved in a horrific accident with a truck on a busy dual-carriageway.
Although Bobbie-Jo wasn’t seriously injured, the mangled wreck of her car was a complete write-off. At just 18-years-old, Bobbie-Jo was traumatized by the accident and it took weeks of patience, encouragement and coaching for Pennie to get her daughter back behind the wheel.
The accident happened six years ago and since then Pennie 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 fulfilment 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.”
But Pennie’s dream of opening a special driving school dedicated to younger drivers had to be put on hold. She explained: “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.
Pennie looked at a raft of small cars, but none came close to fitting the bill, until by chance she found out about the MG3. She had owned an MGF sports car for a few years, so she knew the brand.
Then Pennie discovered that W.H. Brand in Spalding, not far from her home in Wisbech St Mary, was an MG dealer. She 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.”
So Pennie’s dream driving school, DARE2DRIVE, was formed. Now she is teaching both young learner drivers and is hoping to make contact with schools across the Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk borders to set up off-road teaching for 14-17-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.”
Adam Brand, of W. H. Brand, said: “We are delighted that Pennie is so obviously pleased with the car. All of our customers are, Pennie is now almost as passionate about the MG3 as she is about her ambitions to teach youngsters how to drive properly and safely.”
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