The third year of the Big Learner Relay for Children in Need, which will take place in November, has been launched.
Hampshire driving instructor Louise Walsh is the inspiration behind the two-week event, which features driving instructors and pupils across the country coming together to raise money for Children in Need.
Driving instructors will be relaying a top box from one driving lesson to another around England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The relay starts with a day in Northern Ireland on Tuesday 1 November. The top box will then continue its convoy around the rest of the UK on Friday 4 November. The grand finale will be at Donington Park on Friday 18 November, which is the Children in Need Appeal Day 2016 – 14 days, 3,000 miles, 190 lead driving lessons and many thousands of instructors and pupils joining the convoy.
The website (www.biglearnerrelay.co.uk) shows the route that the relay will be taking, the names of the lead car instructors, fundraising and much more. Everyone is welcome to the grand finale on 18 November, even if they haven’t taken part in the relay.
You may start noticing spotty cars in your area, which is one of the main ways of fundraising. Driving instructors are purchasing spots, which this year include a couple of Pudsey Bear stickers, from the shop on the website. A minimum of 20% of the sale of the spots will go directly to Children in Need, but the spots are by far the biggest fundraiser. Pupils, family members, business and the public are all sponsoring a spot on a car and donating through the JustGiving page. Everyone is welcome to go spotty or wear a Big Learner Relay hoodie for the charity. Alternatively, it’s possible to make a donation by texting Pass85, followed by the amount, to 70070.
In 2014, the total raised stood at over £65,000, £60,000 more than the original target. Last year the organisers were staggered to reach just a few pounds short of £100,000. The total raised for Children in Need through the Big Leaner Relay is now over £165,000.
A number of driving instructors are involved on a more committed level by being lead cars. This ensures that every leg of the relay has a confirmed instructor and pupil in place to carry the top box, so the relay runs without a break in the chain.
The lead cars demonstrate the diversity in this profession; independent schools, franchises both national and local, instructor trainers, instructors teaching in diesel, petrol and electric cars, and instructors who specialise in teaching people with disabilities. This year there is also a ‘lead car’ ambulance with an instructor who trains paramedics how to drive an ambulance. Instructors in every part of the country are planning on joining the relay and convoying behind the top box car.
Not wanting to miss out on any of the fun, Walsh is travelling the whole of the UK route in the back of each lead car’s lesson.
She said: “I am so looking forward to meeting the hundreds of participating instructors, taking photos, cheering the convoy on, updating the live feeds, communicating with the media and wearing my Big Learner Relay hoodie with pride as we travel around the country.”
The third year of the Big Learner Relay promises to be even bigger and better than the previous two years. The grand final will be held on Friday 18 November at Donington Race Circuit, hopefully with a lap or two of the track.
Participants and supporters are all invited to join the organisers for an evening of dinner and entertainment at the Hilton East Midlands Airport Hotel.
Follow the Big Learner Relay on social media:
Facebook - thebiglearnerrelay
Twitter - @big_relay
If you would you like to find out more and get involved, log on to www.biglearnerrelay.co.uk or call 07783 529797