Big Learner Relay coming to Lochaber and beyond

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The Big Learner Relay for Children in Need is coming further north than it has ever been and local driving instructors are raising money in the build-up.

Driving instructors will be in the car with a learner who will take a short stint of the more than 3,000-mile journey.

The relay will take a spotted, yellow top box – like those driving instructors use – from Land’s End to John O’ Groats, then back down to finish at the National Space Centre in Leicester.

The top box that lead cars will relay up and down the UK

Jean O’Brien is going to be taking one of her pupils from Ballachulish to Fort William on Friday November 8 and looking forward to taking part. She said: ‘Lots of driving instructors are raising money but I will be taking part as a lead car for one part of the relay.

‘I have already raised £300 and definitely think we can do more. You can sponsor one of the spots on my car – there are lots left – and you can donate up until November 15 through my Facebook page.

‘What I love about this is it’s completely and utterly voluntary from all the driving instructors and the organisers to raise money for a good cause.’

Jean will do the last leg of the day on Friday with her pupil – who will get a few free practice lessons on the A82 to Fort William – and, after handing over the top box to the next car, is hoping to follow the relay up to John O’Groats.

The route across the UK will cover over 3000 miles and have hundreds of participants

The route will then wind its way back down to the National Space Centre to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

Volunteer organiser Amy Cullen said: ‘The instructors are really pulling out all the stops to raise money for Children in Need by giving up weekends, booking hotels and joining our big road trip around the country. It’s wonderful to see the commitment.

‘It’s also an opportunity to bring driving instructors together. Instructors largely work independently apart from the occasional training day or passing on the road, so this gives them an opportunity to get together, plan local routes and raise money for a great cause.’

Hampshire driving instructor Louise Walsh came up with the idea in 2014 when participants raised over £65,000 for the children’s charity, smashing their initial goal of £5,000.

Now in its sixth year, this is the most ambitious route yet with more than 170 volunteer instructors passing the top box between learner drivers and supported by many more cars and fundraisers.

Louise, who will be in the back seat of every car, said: ‘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.’

If you want to sponsor Jean O’Brien, get in contact through her Facebook page or text LAUNCH and the amount to 70085.