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Adrian Leake

Adrian Leake, 35, has always worked in teaching and coaching roles, but after a traumatic experience of being struck by a car while cycling, the father of three from Lichfield, Staffordshire, retrained as a driving instructor.

After finishing high school, Adrian went to university and trained in Outdoor Adventure Leadership and Management BSC (Outdoor education). He worked as a college lecturer, and then as a teacher, focusing on students with Special Educational Needs (SEN), such as Autism and ADHD. He was also a Personal Trainer for 10 years.

On the 20th August in 2016, Adrian was involved in a near-fatal accident while cycling on a charity event. Of the accident, he says “I was looking for a challenge, something that was quite extreme and that I would have to work towards. So I signed up for a charity bike ride, aiming to cycle 315 miles from Newcastle to London in less than 24 hours.

adrian leake

“While on the ride, I was hit by a 4×4 travelling at 50mph. At that speed, there is a 95% chance you won’t make it. The odds were against me. My family was told I would be paralysed.”

The vertebrae in Adrian’s spine were broken. In surgery, he underwent a spinal fusion, and 8 screws and 2 rods have been used to hold that in place.

“There is a chance that my spinal fusion won’t be 100%, particularly later down the line. I don’t know how I’ll be in the future, so I knew I had to look for a new role that was flexible and, most importantly, wasn’t too much strain on my body. I needed something that would allow me to sit down if I needed to. So I decided to retrain as a driving instructor.”

Adrian began training to be a driving instructor with RED Driving School in June 2017, and after completing his training in November 2018, he began working as an instructor.

On his new career, Adrian says “I find it so rewarding to watch people develop their new skills. This has always been a passion of mine throughout my career and coaching people has been a common feature across every job I’ve had, from working with children with special needs to personal training.

“Teaching people how to drive is no different. Their enthusiasm and pride are so contagious. I’ve had people literally scream with joy when they’ve passed their driving test!

“And it’s not just test day – there’s lots of little stepping stones along the way, whether it’s doing a certain manoeuvre successfully for the first time or gaining confidence with roundabouts. There’s plenty of milestones to be proud of, and it’s so fulfilling to watch a learner realise they’ve just achieved something that they couldn’t do a week or even an hour ago.”

Adrian says his accident has given him a vested interest in teaching people how to drive. “The driver who hit me was driving at speed, probably tailgating the car in front of him, and definitely wasn’t watching the road. That was nearly fatal for me.

“So it’s important to me to educate other drivers. I want to ensure everyone can use the road safely, whether they’re driving a car, riding a bike or walking along the pavement.

On the ages of his learners, Adrian says “it varies – some are young ones who come out for a lesson on the first day they’re able to. The oldest learner I have at the moment is 49.”

An added perk of his new career is the improved work/life balance. The flexible nature of the role allows him much more family time with his wife and three sons. “When I was a teacher, I was working at a school myself, so I never got to have time off for my kids’ Sports Day, Parents Evening or other school events. I can now pick my boys up from school and arrange my schedule so I can be there for these important events too. Being a driving instructor gives me the luxury to base my work week around my children. I even have my weekends off now, I choose not to work on the weekends so I can spend time with my family and play rugby.”

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