Nigel King, 74 from Enfield, is back behind the wheel following a stroke thanks to specialist support and driving tuition from a Driving Mobility assessment centre based in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
Nigel is a retired residential and commercial estate agent who has always led an active lifestyle with extensive driving. His career involved selling substantial properties which involved the use of a car on a regular basis. Since passing his test at 17, Nigel drove for over 50 years until he experienced a stroke in 2018. This left him with reduced mobility in his left hand and arm which meant driving a standard car was impossible.
Nigel was concerned that he might not be able to drive again however his consultant and Occupational Therapists explained there were possible solutions that gave him hope. The DVLA was informed of Nigel’s situation so his driving licence was put on hold until a professional assessment confirmed he could drive safely in an adapted vehicle. This led to help from Driving Mobility.
As Nigel’s rehabilitation began, the stroke department at his local hospital advised him to seek a specialist driving assessment. This would provide a professional evaluation of his capabilities and recommend suitable adaptions to allow safe driving with one hand. Nigel researched online and discovered the charity Driving Mobility which accredited a centre close to his home (Herts Ability).
The national charity Driving Mobility oversees 20 centres, which consist of independent charities and NHS departments, with over 70 outreach facilities across the UK. Driving Mobility is regarded as the ‘national voice of assisted driving and independence’ and continues to support the development of new services focused on all aspects of accessible travel. The Welwyn Garden City centre is proud to be part of this network with its CEO, Sean Lawrence, being an active Trustee on the Driving Mobility board. Nigel contacted the Hertfordshire centre and a driving assessment was booked.
Nigel explains: “Driving Mobility were so supportive of me throughout the whole process and really patient. After an initial consultation on the phone I made an appointment to visit their centre. After a reassuring welcome I underwent a cognitive test and was then accompanied in a dual-control car by an instructor and therapist. A steering knob or ‘lollipop’ had already been fitted to the vehicle to see if I could operate it safely and confidently. At first I did not find it easy, even though I am right-handed my 50-years of holding a steering wheel in a standard way made it difficult. Driving Mobility was very patient with me and following the initial assessment they recommended driving lessons so I could get used to this new way of driving. As part of their service they put me in touch with one of their assessors, who was able to provide tuition.”
Nigel completed some 20 hours of tuition and another assessment over a 12-month period – achieving a positive outcome in November 2019. This meant his driving licence was returned and he was approved to drive independently once more. Nigel’s automatic Ford Fiesta has been fitted with a wireless ‘lollipop’ which clips onto the steering wheel to provide leverage and push-button control of indicators, lights, wipers and horn. It can be easily removed for his wife to drive their car with standard controls. They can now drive together or independently again.
Nigel concludes: “It took me a year to achieve approval to drive again, however, my persistence paid off. I’ll be honest I didn’t find it easy and I really had to work at it, but I got there. Dependent on your abilities, I’d say it is wise not to expect success overnight. After a life-changing experience, it can take time to learn a new way of driving. So, my final piece of advice is not to be deterred. Be patient and take your time, concentrate and practise and you’ll get there. Being able to drive again has enabled me to regain my independence thanks to Driving Mobility.”