BSM driving instructors bravely take to the passenger seat for a charity ‘blind drive’.

Written by
Luke Davies
19th of August, 2014
  • Blind and sighted drivers blindfolded for the Donington Racepark challenge
  • Five local BSM instructors taking part from Leicester, Coventry, Market Harborough and Melton Mowbray.
  • Visually-impaired fundraiser from Nottingham set to get into the driving seat

Brave BSM driving instructors have volunteered to take a spin around a racetrack with a blind driver.

Local instructors from around East Midlands will guide drivers around Donington Racepark, Derby, on Saturday, September 13th.

Some drivers have a visual impairment, but they will compete on a level playing field with sighted people as all drivers wore a blindfold.

Last year the instructors helped the fundraisers raise more than £12,000 for the charity.

BSM instructor Jitesh Panchal, from Leicester, said: “Last year was so successful and so much fun that we really wanted to help the charity again.

“Being able to jump in the car and go where you want to, when you want to, is something that the rest of us take for granted. But when you are blind that freedom of movement is taken away from you so it’s amazing to be able to give them a chance to experience something they wouldn’t otherwise get to do and fundraise for such a great cause.”

Mark Peacock, head of BSM, said: “BSM has supported Guide Dogs Blind Drives for a few years and they are always a great experience for all involved.

“As instructors, they are all experts in good communication, patience and holding their nerve, but they need all that, and more, for this event.

“Being driven by a blindfolded driver is a real challenge but they are all experts and it’s a great way to raise money for charity.”

All the BSM driving instructors who are taking part (Jitesh Panchal from Leicester, Mo Waka from Leicester, Alec Hatwood from Melton Mowbray, Steve Read from Market Harborough and Harjit Kaur from Coventry) volunteered their time to help the sponsored drivers raise money for charity Guide Dogs.

One of the drivers who will be fundraising on the day is 20-year-old Nathan Edge, from Mansfield in Nottingham.

Nathan, who recently finished his studies at WestNottinghamshireCollege, started to lose his vision as a result of arthritis at the back of his knee. The inflammation caused by the arthritis spread to the back of his eyes and he gradually began to lose his sight. He lost all his vision earlier this year.

The Blind Drive will be the first opportunity he has had to experience driving. The novel fundraising event is open to people who are blind, visually impaired or sighted. People who are sighted will be blindfolded and children from 11 years old can take part.  Places are limited and participants will need to sign up before the day.

Nathan said: “I’m really excited about taking part in the Blind Drive. I recently became 20 years old and I’ve never been able to drive after losing my sight so young. I’m at the stage in my life where friends are passing their driving tests and getting new cars, so for me this is a great opportunity to find out what that feels like.

“When you have no sight you’re not able to get into a car and drive to where you want to go. You have to rely on public transport to get out and about. Without my guide dog Hudson I would not be able to navigate myself to the train station or onto the tram.  Hudson helps me get to where I need to go and be involved in the community. Something I wouldn’t be able to do if I was isolated at home. I hope other people will follow in my footsteps and sign up to take part.”

Kelly France, engagement officer for Guide Dogs, said: “Nathan is a fantastic ambassador for Guide Dogs. The money he raises from his fundraising activities helps us continue our life-changing work and make people aware that there is life after sight loss. I hope he inspires more people, whether they’re blind, visually impaired or sighted, to get behind the wheel for our Blind Drive.”

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