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Merseyside driving instructors buckle up for 3,000-mile Big Learner Relay

Driving instructors and pupils across Merseyside are getting in gear to take part in a 3,000-mile relay in aid of one of Britain’s best-loved charities.

The Big Learner Relay is a UK-wide fundraising challenge for Children in Need, which takes place in November.

Spanning across the UK, driving instructors and their students relay a Pudsey Bear top-box from one driving lesson to the next – all whilst driving behind the wheels of some very spotty cars.

Local driving instructor Jane Rooney has been working hard over the past few months to convince fellow instructors to fundraise for the Big Learner Relay.

Jane Rooney, pictured above, is the lead driver for Wirral’s leg of the relay (Credit: Jane Rooney Driving School)

Starting out in the Rock Retail Park on Wednesday 6th November, Jane will be kicking off her journey at 6PM, driving a scenic route towards Anfield.

“I was delighted when Lou Walsh approached me and asked if I wanted to get stuck in. It’s such an incredible event, and I just couldn’t say no!”

Jane Rooney, lead driver of the Birkenhead to Anfield convoy for The Big Learner Relay 2019

Passing on the baton to the next convoy, the race will continue for another nine days before reaching the finish line at the National Space Centre in Leicester.

Jane Rooney is ‘honoured’ to have the opportunity to drive the lead convoy car, and organise the event locally.

Jane said: “The Big Learner Relay has been taking place for six years now, and each year it gets bigger and better.

Jane uses her car to teach her pupils during her driving lessons (Credit: Mersey Community News)

“I was delighted when Lou Walsh approached me and asked if I wanted to get stuck in.  It’s such an incredible event, and I just couldn’t say no. It’s a real honour to take part.”

Numerous driving schools across Merseyside are also taking part in the journey, including James Mcaleer from Kirkby Driving Lessons, and Alex Doyle from Bill Plant.

Participants are asking members of the public to keep an eye out for the cars in the days to come, and Jane is raising money by getting people to sponsor spots on her car.

“One kid stopped in the middle of pavement when we were parked on the side, got very excited when they saw the spots, and shouted: “Mummy, it’s Mr. Tumble’s car!

That’s definitely a good thing, because it’s making people stop, ask questions, and donate to the cause.”

Jane Rooney, lead driver of the Birkenhead to Anfield convoy for The Big Learner Relay 2019

Jane says that the spots have piqued the curiosity of members of the public – particularly the little ones.

“I have been teaching my students inside the car over the past couple of weeks, and it has been really fun.  All kinds of people have been interested in learning what we’re up to, and it makes us feel very excited.

ITV presenters Dave Brown and Andy Bonner have already pledged their support to the scheme (Credit: Mersey Community News)

“There’s been a couple of times where we have driven past little kids, who have been pointing and staring when we were driving up and down the prom.

“The best reaction has been from the little ones. I remember one kid stopped in the middle of pavement when we were parked on the side, got very excited when they saw the spots, and shouted: “Mummy, it’s Mr. Tumble’s car!”

“That’s definitely a good thing, because it’s making people stop, ask questions, and donate to the cause.”

The first leg of the Big Learner Relay will take place today, at Land’s End, at 8AM in the morning.

Hampshire driving Louise Walsh was the first person to come up with the idea for the relay, which took place in 2014. 

One of Jane’s students pictured above, sponsoring a spot (Credit: Mersey Community News)

Five years later, and Louise will be joining Jane – as well as the thousands of relay drivers across the UK – as part of her pledge to travel the whole of the UK route in 15 days.

Louise 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!”

Members of the public can adopt one of Jane’s spots by texting “LUNAR” with a donation of your choice (e.g. “LUNAR 20”) to 70085.

To find out more about the Big Learner Relay or learn how you can get involved, please visit: www.biglearnerrelay.co.uk

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