Driving

Back in 2010 I decided to look into the possibility of driving, so I contacted Motability. They put in me in touch with a Driving Assessment Centre in Aylesford. I was asked to attend for a full assessment. Whilst there I drove a Mercedes Vito around a track, and to my delight they said there was no reason for me not to drive and they would send a report to Motability.
I was then asked to choose a car, I took advice from the adaption company, to see which car's they could adapt. The choice was a Vauxhall Meriva, once it was delivered it was uplifted to Jim Doran Hand Controls in Coventry. Shortly after, I travelled up to have fittings and to decide which buttons and switches were needed. The advice and support given by everyone at JDHC was absolutely amazing, they made it all seem so easy.
Several more trips to Coventry over the next few months, to have more checks and fittings. I also got to have a drive around a track, that's when it finally hit me that I could be driving very soon. Each time I went there, so much more had been done. Shortly after the final fitting and checks, the car was delivered back to the dealership and was then ready for collection. As I hadn't passed my test, my brother Lee had to drive it back for me.

How it all works -
I steer with my left foot, and have an accelerator and brake which I operate with my right foot. The indicator switch is on the accelerator, and to the right of that, there is a green button, which is for flashing the head lights. I use my right foot to operate all other buttons and switches. There is a bleeper system, the button is on my door, so I use my elbow to activate it. Each bleep is for something different - The Horn, full beam, front screen wash, front wipers, rear screen wash, rear screen wipers, hazard lights and fog lights. Thankfully I have a list stuck to the dash for this. 

I couldn't wait to start learning to drive, as people may know, I'm quite impatient. Before I started any lessons, my mum and step dad took me out several times. The first time, we went to a car park, so I could get used to the car. After the first time driving, my mum said, "you may as well drive home". I believe I had the look of horror on my face at that point. she said "I would not have suggested it, if I didn't think you could do it". So, that was my first time on the road and never looked back after that.
I remember my step dad coming out with me, and he got me to reverse around a Martello Tower, I had to keep doing this until I got all the way round, keeping inside a foot from the kerb. That was tough, but very good practise.
Several friends would sit with me, so I could go out every day. Gaining that extra experience really helped.
After 16hrs of lessons I took my test on the 4th May 2012, which I passed first time, with only 3 minors. When I was told I had passed, I actually shed a tear or two. This was without doubt the biggest achievement and proudest moment of my life. I had kept the date quiet, as didn't want any extra nerves on the day.
I rang my mum to tell her, but she didn't believe me at first. I finally got hold of my brother to tell him the news. I couldn't make the big announcement on Facebook until I had told them first. That evening, I think I drove over 200 miles, including on the motorway. I received a text from my brother, saying how proud he was, and how proud my late dad would of been.. Yes, another tear was shed.
For several months after, I would go for a drive, at random times, just because I could.
I couldn't believe how much this was changing my life, no more buses or taxi's.

I have been on a speed awareness course, that was a very long 4 and half hours.

In May 2017 I got my new car, a Nissan X-Trail. In the months leading up to it, I went through a similar process as before, you can see pictures of the adaptions above.

I believe my personalised number plate shows what sort of sense of humour I have.

Any disabled person thinking of driving, just do it, I promise, you won't regret it. Also speak to JDHC, they are very happy to help you.