Family Business


Michelle Witheyman is following in the tyre tracks of her father and grandfather by becoming a driving instructor.
She couldn't wait to hit the road and begin her dream career - but she had to be patient. The law insists that you have to be 21 and have been driving for three years before you can become an Approved Driving Instructor.
Michelle, from Bognor Regis, West Sussex, never believed she would do anything else but teach learners to drive.
She says "My dad Paul has been an instructor for 15 years and before that my grandfather. I could never imagine not doing it although there were times during training I was scared I'd fail".
 Driving comes as second nature to Michelle, 24, who passed her test first time only five months after her 17th Birthday.
 "Dad taught me which was great", she says. "There were no father-daughter rows behind the wheel at all. I was just keen to get going".
Before starting her dream career, she took a degree in fashion at Southampton. But as soon as she graduated and turned 21, she applied to the Driving Standards Agency for her starter pack. Dad set about helping her refresh the necessary skills at weekends.
There are three exams - theory and hazard perception tests, a practical driving test and teaching.
The teaching side involves role-playing with an examiner taking the part of a learner.
With a special training licence she took on four pupils and set about teaching them to drive.
"I took my time over this section. You can only fail three times before having to start all over again two years later".
Finally, last September, on her third attempt at Part 3, Michelle was awarded her full teaching licence.
She says: "I felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I could finally begin my career".
Michelle then joined her Dad's company PDW Driving School as an instructor. And she loves it.
"No day is the same and I have such fun", she says. "The feeling you get when a student passes their test is phenomenal".
"The fact I'm teaching people something from scratch is a real thrill. Once they've passed they will never have to take a test again and I feel responsible for that".
Even so, she still finds herself in some tricky spots. "In the past fortnight I've found myself on the wrong side of the road twice for no apparent reason", she laughs.
"My job is to get students back on the right side and off we go. It was a bit hairy last week when we came to a standstill on a 60mph road for no reason, but, hey - we got moving again".
Her dad is understandably proud. "He thinks I'm an inspiration to young people who want to achieve their goals in life", she says.
He's likely to be even more chuffed as Michelle continues her career.
Next up is her advanced driving test with the Royal Society for the Preventions of Accidents.
"Everything I do is geared towards developing my career as a driving instructor. I can't imagine a better job".