John displays ‘blind courage’ behind the wheel

James with John at the driving lesson

James with John at the driving lesson

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A disability charity has teamed up with a Stranraer driving instructor to help a blind 88 year-old man fulfil his dream of a first ever driving lesson.

Retired Stranraer physiotherapist John Cramond lost his sight as a young boy and has never had the opportunity to drive. Despite his sight loss, John never shied away from a challenge and, following a full and successful career at the Garrick Hospital in Stranraer, John has continued to set himself challenges and goals.

John received support at home services from Leonard Cheshire Disability and so he approached their volunteer co-ordinator Bill Milven to see if it would be possible to fulfil a life-long ambition have a go at driving a car.

Local driving instructor James Edgar from the town was contacted and, without hesitation, James agreed and a session was arranged last Saturday morning on James’ official off-road site at Kirkcolm.

Despite a rainy start to the day, John took to the wheel with a huge smile on his face and very quickly got to grips with the basics of steering, braking and gear-changing and with expert tuition from James, enjoyed an hour of driving around the off-road site at the old flying boat air-strip just outside the village.

James said; “When Leonard Cheshire Disability contacted me to ask if it would be possible for John to have a driving lesson I quickly realised that there was no reason why not as I have a dual-control vehicle and an official off-road site for driver training. 

“John was amazingly quick at picking up the basics and we spent an hour going through the gears, breaking and steering before finally and safely building up to a short sprint at 30 miles an hour! Witnessing the joy on John’s face as he was driving after all this time was a truly rewarding experience for me too and I’m so glad I was able to help.”

John said; “I lost my sight when in my early years but I have never let this stop me from doing all that I could to live as normal a life as possible.

“I had a go on a tandem bicycle with my son down south recently and that set me thinking that I really did want to try and have a go at driving a car-a thing that I thought I’d never do. “After the lesson I was buzzing with excitement all day and couldn’t wait to tell my family. I want to thank Bill and James for fulfilling a dream wish for me.”