The Big Learner Relay
For the last 2 years I have been proud to be representing Innov8 Driving School by participating in the Big Learner Relay on behalf of Children In Need. In 2014 a driving instructor came up with the concept of travelling up and down the country in a big learner train to raise money for this amazing Charity.
In essence the relay consists of around 100 individual legs where a lead car takes Pudsey Bear from one location to another being followed by numerous learner cars. These learner cars are all on a lesson teaching the learner to follow road signs and other vehicles ie convoy driving. This is something that is rarely if ever taught in real life lessons but is a great life skill to have.
How many times have we as experienced drivers followed a car to get to a destination? Once the convoy has reached its destination (around 10-20 miles from its starting point) Pudsey Bear is handed on to another team of drivers who continue the journey. Each year the event gets bigger and bigger and involves around 3000 instructors around Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I had the honour in 2018 of being the lead car in the Chelmsford to Maldon leg of the relay which started from the beautiful setting of Hylands House.
The event is a great opportunity for instructors to get together with other instructors from different schools all with the same goal of raising money. It is also an opportunity for students to get involved and do their bit whilst learning important new driving skills
How do we raise money? In essence each leg has a team of instructors who each place dozens of colourful round stickers on their cars (now you know why you probably saw loads of learners around October and November each year travelling in highly visible stickered cars!). Then people have the opportunity to sponsor a sticker and write a message on it. Donations ranged from a few pence to £100s. Every little helps. In addition to sticker sponsorship lots of local events took place around the country.
In Chelmsford we had a stall in the city centre where we gave away cupcakes and had various competitions to promote the event to the public. Even Pudsey Bear made an appearance. It was great to see the children’s faces as they posed for pictures with the most famous bear in the country. In Chelmsford in 2018 we raised around £3000. Across the country the total was closer to £90000.
The Big Learner Relay was also featured on the BBC Children in Need programme itself and is now an official partner of the whole event. From an idea in 2014 to a massive nationwide event in 4 years the sky is the limit to what we, as driving instructors, can do for this great charity. I for one am proud to be involved as are other instructors in Innov8 Driving School.
For more information on the event please visit www.thebiglearnerrelay.co.uk