A NORTH-east charity is giving blind and partially sighted people the chance to drive a car.
North East Sensory Services (NESS) – which has offices in Aberdeen, Elgin and Dundee – is holding its annual ‘Drive of your Life’ event in Alford, on Sunday 26th June.
The event, which takes place at the Grampian Transport Museum, Alford, will enable people with a sensory loss to experience the thrill of driving.
Men and women who have visual loss will be given the opportunity to drive the dual control cars, accompanied by qualified local driving instructors who donate their time free of charge.
NESS, which has been supporting people in the North-east since 1879, provides care and support to people who have a visual and/or hearing loss. From everyday, practical social work support to social support for isolated people, the charity aims to encourage people with a sensory loss achieve greater independence.
The Drive of your Life event was developed following reports from visually-impaired men and women who miss driving.
Neil Skene, fundraising co-ordinator for NESS, who has been blind since he was a child, said: “Driving a car when you are blind or have limited sight is an incredible experience.
“For many people, giving up driving represented a huge and painful step when their sight began to fail, so getting behind the wheel again can be extremely emotional. We have seen grown men in tears after being able to drive for the first time in 30 years.”
Graham Findlay, chief executive of NESS, has himself enjoyed the Drive Of Your Life experience. He said: “It’s been over 27 years since I had to give up driving because of my sight loss and that can be a terrible wrench.
“However, the support from NESS is fantastic and you can regain independence. I love Drive of your Life. They say driving is like riding a bike; you never forget and that is so true.
“As soon as I got behind the wheel, I felt like I had never stopped. The big difference is the introduction of power steering and anti-lock brakes – they make driving so easy!
“I’m looking forward to going along to the Grampian Transport Museum, as I currently hold the NESS speed record of 65 mph on the track.”
Partially-sighted or blind people can take part in the event, by contacting Susan Hewitt at NESS on 0345 271 2345 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The event must be pre-booked and there is a charge of £15 per person.
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