David Smithson - Weelz Driving School

How long have you been a driving instructor for?

I have been instructing for just over 11 years now. I started out working with BSM when I first qualified, but I joined Dale Brooks back in 2011, and I’ve never looked back. There were only 2 of us in the Weelz team back then!

What were you doing before that?

I worked in the catering industry before I was a driving instructor. Initially, I worked as a kitchen porter (washing up!), and worked my way up to a chef de partie, gaining an NVQ 2 and 3 in food preparation and cooking. I started out in Blackpool, before moving down to Cornwall for 3 and a half years in my early 20s, before moving back to Blackpool again, and starting my driving instructor training.

What do you enjoy most about driving instructing?

That’s a really easy question to answer. Quite simply it is the job satisfaction. Like in any job there are good and bad days, but the feeling that you get when a pupil passes their driving test is quite unique. It is all the more rewarding if you have helped a pupil that has really struggled to pick things up, to see their self belief grow, and then achieve their goals is amazing.

Is there anything you dislike about the job?

There isn’t really much that I dislike about the job itself. One thing that can really get to you, though, is the attitude of other drivers towards learners. Some people are so impatient, and it can really damage the confidence of a nervous learner. Over taking dangerously, revving the engine, or beeping their horns can never help a situation. So many people seem to forget that we’ve all been where they are, and gone through that journey of learning to drive.

What are your interests/hobbies outside of driving instructing?

When I get time away from instructing, I enjoy spending time with my family. My wife is Spanish, and we have two children, aged 5 and 8. We love going on days out, or spending time on the beach when the weather is nice. My wife and children tend to get across to Spain 2 or 3 times a year, and I always get over to see the in-laws around New Year time.

How long have you been a driving instructor for?

I’ve been a driving instructor for around 3 years.

What were you doing before that?

Before being a driving instructor I was a bus driver for around 6 and a half years. Before that, I worked in a high end hotel country manor as a waiter/bar man for weddings. From a young age, before I started working, officially, I was into buying and selling to make money online, which I still try to do in between everything else.

What do you enjoy most about driving instructing?

I think the thing that I enjoy most is meeting new people from all different walks of life, and all different ages. I love problem solving, and that driving instructing is not black and white/ Everyone learns in a different way, so figuring out the route for each individual pupil is amazing. I love to see the progress and how much it can change someone’s life. My approach is all about pulling the confidence out of people, and watching them realise how good they actually are, rather than waiting for me to tell them do this, do this, do this. It has to be fun.

Is there anything you dislike about the job?

It’s probably been seen quite a lot by my fellow instructors, but, it’s the last-minute cancellations and “no shows”. Being self employed, if someone cancels last minute, or just doesn’t come out when you arrive, I make no money for that time slot. If a few students do that in the same week, or even, the same day, it can add up to a huge loss!

Another one for me, which is probably a bit of a touchy subject, as everyone learns and teaches differently, but, seeing a learner car sat at the side of the road for massive amounts of time. I know it’s not always the case, but, some people seem to spend ages stuck in conversation, just saving money from not using any fuel.

What are your interests/hobbies outside of driving instructing?

My first passion is probably my fishing. I generally go carp fishing, focusing mainly on competitions, that often have good prize money, as this really helps to push myself. My other big hobby is golf. You’ll generally find me on the driving range at least twice a week, and then I love to get out on the course at the weekends, whenever I get the chance.

Alberto Colacurcio - Weelz Driving School

How long have you been a driving instructor for?

My name is Alberto, but most people call me Bert. I have been a driving instructor for over 20 years now, and I’ve been with Weelz for almost 2 years.

What were you doing before that?

I was in the army and served in the Royal Corps of Transport for 8 years. I drove in some very interesting places including Kuwait, Iran, Canada, California, Belize, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, Germany and France. After leaving the army, I joined Blackpool council as a driver. I was asked to take a group of colleagues driver training on a minibus. The shotgun coach there said I came across really well, and he thought I’d make a good driving instructor. He pushed me to do the training, and the rest is history!

What do you enjoy most about driving instructing?

Like most instructors, I just love to drive. I enjoy meeting, and teaching, new people. There is nothing better than seeing the look on their faces when they pass their test. I worked as an independent instructor (working on my own, rather than part of a driving school), for a while before joining the Weelz team (family!). I have to say I have never looked back, it’s the best decision I have made.

Is there anything you dislike about the job?

There really isn’t much that I dislike about the job, as I say, I’ve been doing it for 20 years, and I still love it. The only thing that can irritate me is the constant cancellations, particularly those that come at the last minute. I have to say though, I love hearing the excuses people come up with. You think you’ve heard it all, but people never cease to amaze you!

What are your interests/hobbies outside of driving instructing?

After leaving the regular army, I joined the army reserves. I’m in my last year now, having completed almost 30 years service. I love socialising and spending time with my family. I am also a rugby fan. I’m a rugby union man mainly, but I’m happy to watch either. I played in the army, and for Blackpool, when I was younger, now I settle for cheering on England and Italy in the 6 nations.

How long have you been a driving instructor for?

I qualified as an instructor in 2008. I worked with BSM after qualifying, then as a freelance instructor until 2015. I’ve been with the Weelz team for about 3 years now.

What were you doing before that?

Prior to driving instructing, I worked as a counsellor. I did a lot of work with individual clients, but also within a variety of organisations. At varying times I worked in places including a womens refuge, a homeless hostel and a drug rehabilitation unit.

What do you enjoy most about driving instructing?

I find my role as a driving instructor very rewarding. I get great satisfaction in helping my students to achieve their ambition of passing their driving test, and witnessing all of the new opportunities that open up to them due to their success. There is still a buzz when I see my ex-pupils on the road, in their own cars and i feel immensely proud that I played a part in each of their individual journeys.

In addition, I enjoy being able to work flexible hours and have the freedom to choose my own days off. It’s much easier organising holidays which can work around my own, and my family’s other commitments. I enjoy the variety of challenges in teaching people to drive, as it often forces me to “think out of the box”. Sometimes, I have to be quite inventive in explaining concepts – trying to relate them to each individual’s past and present life experiences. Very often, through this process, I learn valuable insights from my students, that help me to communicate with other students who are experiencing the same difficulties in understanding. I feel that being a driving instructor is a lifelong learning project!

Is there anything you dislike about the job?

I find it extremely frustrating when students cancel their lessons, either last minute, or, even worse, when they simply fail to show up at all. I also find it very irritating when other drivers behave inconsiderately, especially when they fail to signal at roundabouts, causing students to have to stop unnecessarily.

Also, we quite often get drivers, who are really trying to do you a favour, and flash their headlights to let you go, when it is not our priority. I try to teach my student who has right of way, and who should go, so when something different happens, it can be very confusing for them. Then to make matters even worse, after we’ve played stalemate for a while, they insist that we go first. This may take us a few extra seconds, then, when we do try to set off, they change their mind and do the same?!

Sitting in congestion, trying to avoid roadworks and negotiating the, ever increasing myriad of pot holes (some of which are almost sinkholes), are also bones of contention for me.

What are your interests/hobbies outside of driving instructing?

I’m very passionate about my love for animals. When I’m not teaching, I can always be found either at the stables, with my horse, or in the company of my German Shepherd dog.

Presently, I’m also attempting to learn French through Duolingo, although I must admit that I’m really struggling with it. I think that the old adage about teaching old dogs new tricks, was based on my experience!

Alan Buckley - Weelz Driving School

How long have you been a driving instructor for?

I’ve been an instructor, for Weelz Driving School, for just under a year now, and I’m looking forward to a bright future with them.

What were you doing before that?

Before I becam an instructor, I was a foster carer. In fact, I still am! I’m looking after 2 girls at the moment. I’ve fostered 14 children in total, varying in age from birth up to teenagers, and even, young mums with their babies. I’ve done that for around 10 years now. I am also a fully qualified painter and decorator, and was self employed doing that for almost 6 years. Before that, I worked as a foreman for a firm doing jobs for companies like Tesco and Pizza Hut.

What do you enjoy most about driving instructing?

The thing I enjoy most about driving instructing, is the fact that I get to help someone acheive one of their goals! It’s great watching someone develop their skills as a driver. Going from that nervous smile, when they first sit in the drivers seat on their very first lesson, to the beaming smile on the face when they get back and have passed their driving test. Its a great feeling to be a part of that journey.

Is there anything you dislike about the job?

The main thing that I don’t enjoy, is the way that some drivers can disrepect learners. It can be really irritating to see how rude some people can be towards someone who is just learning. People seem so quick to forget that we’ve all been there, everybody was “just a learner” once.

What are your interests/hobbies outside of driving instructing?

My biggest hobby, away from driving instructing, is fishing (When I get time!). I like to go fishing in local lakes, but recently, I’ve started to try my hand at sea fishing too. Its completely different, and I get sea sick, so I can’t do boats, but there are some great spots on the beach between Cleveleys and Fleetwood. I also have a few fish tanks at home, which I enjoy, and of course, I always enjoy spending time with my family.

Sue Warrington - Weelz Driving School

How long have you been a driving instructor for?

I have been a driving instructor for around 6 years, and I am currently the Weelz automatic instructor.

What were you doing before that?

I worked for a large utility company, surveying properties to see if they could have a water meter fitted. It was a job that I quite enjoyed, but there were rumours of redundancies going around, so I made the decision to train as a driving instructor, and I’ve never looked back.

What do you enjoy most about driving instructing?

I love the satisfaction that I get, knowing that I’ve taught someone how to drive, and changed their lives because of it. I often find myself teaching a lot of young mums, and I know how much they can struggle with the kids, on public transport. Passing their driving test opens up a whole new world to them, and I love that I’ve played a part in that.

Is there anything you dislike about the job?

From a business perspecive, it would have to be short notice cancellations, they can be ever so annoying! Other than that, it would have to be the reaction that some other road users have when they encounter a learner driver. They always just seem to want to get infront of the learner, and show absolutely no respect in trying to get there. Its always satisfying when you end up directly behind them at the next set of traffic lights and realise that their impatience has acheived absolutely nothing.

What are your interests/hobbies outside of driving instructing?

I breed and show exhibition budgerigars. I’m very passionate about my hobby, and it can take up a lot of my time, but, its my little escape from driving instructing if I’ve had a particularly hard day on the road. I have also recently taken up a role as a Cambridge weight plan consultant. It’s something I’m enjoying, and have used myself over the last year or so. I’ve lost 4 stone so far, and am looking forward to supporting other people on their weight loss journey.

How long have you been a driving instructor for?

I have been a driving instructor for over 2 years altogether, and I’m into my 3rd year with Weelz Driving School.

What were you doing before that?

I’ve had a wide variety of jobs over the years. I always wanted to be a driving instructor, but life, and the cost of training, delayed the process a bit. I was a marine painter back in Scotland, where I painted yachts worth well into their millions. The most famous yacht I painted is called “The Drum”.
After moving to Blackpool, I wanted a permanent job, so I trained as a bus driver, and then latterly I moved on to doing house removals and clearances.

What do you enjoy most about driving instructing?

I enjoy getting that nervous pupil, and seeing their face light up when they actually get the car moving. It’s great watching that fear turn to excitement! I like meeting a variety of different people, and, as cheesy as this sounds, I love helping people change their lives. Watching a pupil’s joy when they get their licence is always a great feeling. This feeling motivates me to work hard . I like to keep the environment relaxed, but am always pushing to get pupils to test standard, and ultimately that pass. In my first 2 years I have helped 75 pupils to acheive their goal.

Is there anything you dislike about the job?

Impatient drivers! It’s as simple as that really, and it’s something I had to deal with on the busses too. It seems that no-one wants to be stuck behind a bus, or a learner driver! It’s frustrating, but I guess that’s their problem. I encourage my learners to be aware of them, and to react to any bad driving, but to try and not let it worry them. Every driver has been in that position, as no-one was born with the ability to drive. Some drivers seem to forget that very quickly though.

What are your interests/hobbies outside of driving instructing?

I am, and always have been, a bit of a petrol head. I like old Fords and I currently have a Focus ST, which I try to take that to car shows when I can. You can usually find me tinkering with the car when I do get time off. I currently have it running at about 340 BHP, so its fair to say it can get to 30mph reasonably quickly. I’m hoping to take it on a track day next at some point next year.

How long have you been a driving instructor for?

I guess you would say I’m the newbie in the Weelz team, as I’ve only been training learners for about 6 weeks.

What were you doing before that?

Before joining Weelz, I was a customer service manager at Ladbrokes. I did that for about 5 years, 3 of which I spent in Blackpool, doing 2 years in Manchester before that. I worked as a croupier in a casino for 4 and a half years before joining Ladbrokes. In the casino, I mostly dealt roulette games, with a bit of blackjack and poker too. I really don’t miss those night shifts and going to bed at 8 o’clock in the morning!

What do you enjoy most about driving instructing?

There are so many things I enjoy about the job. I enjoy seeing someone doing something they had no idea how to do just an hour or so ago, and improving on it everytime they drive. As everyone learns in different ways, I like challenging myself to work out the different ways to unlock things in a pupil’s mind, helping them to understand a skill. I also enjoy the freedom of picking my own days off, and the hours I work. Its great being on the move all day with different people.

Is there anything you dislike about the job?

It would probably be the impatient drivers we encouter on the roads. I should say though, to be fair, it doesn’t happen very often. Everyone is a learner at one point, and everyone can see the big L plate on the roof, so a little bit of patience, and extra time, is always appreciated.
I can live with lessons being cancelled, because I understand that things can crop up at the last minute. What I don’t like though, is when you turn up for a lesson and there is no-one in. That’s frustrating because I don’t have chance to try and fill that gap with someone else, so it’s just wasted time and lost money.

What are your interests/hobbies outside of driving instructing?

I like to spend my spare time relaxing with my fiance and our dog, Ned. As I can, no longer, play football, I have to make do with watching it, or playing FIFA on the playstation. I’m a keen Liverpool fan.

Martin Allen - Weelz Driving School

How long have you been a driving instructor for?

I’m approaching my tenth anniversary as a driving instructor, qualifying back in 2009.

What were you doing before that?

Before I was an instructor, I used to make concrete for the construction industry. Well, I’ve probably made that seem a bit more technical than it actually is, a machine actually made the concrete, I just pressed the buttons on the computer!

What do you enjoy most about driving instructing?

The thing I enjoy most about being instructor is the satisfaction of teaching someone a new life skill. Being self employed, and in control of my own diary, also enables me to plan my own hours, which helps me to achieve a proper work/life balance.

Is there anything you dislike about the job?

Having read a few of these posts, I’m going to repeat what a number of my fellow Weelz instructors have already said, but its very true. The biggest headache that we all encounter, on an almost, daily basis is the impatience of some other road users. I try to remain professional and let it wash over me, but on some days it can feel like a constant headache.

What are your interests/hobbies outside of driving instructing?

I really enjoy cooking, and whilst I can turn my hand to most things I do enjoy cooking Chinese and other Asian food. Other than that, I am a football fan, following a proper team (unlike some of my fellow instructors!). I am a supporter of Liverpool FC.

How long have you been a driving instructor for?

I qualified as a driving instructor on 18th March 2013, so, about 5 and a half years. I joined Weelz in August 2013 and I’ve never looked back!

What were you doing before that?

Before I was a driving instructor, I spent over 10 years working at Edwards, which is a wholesale jewellers, so its been quite a significant career change!

What do you enjoy most about driving instructing?

I enjoy meeting new people, from all walks of life, and helping them to acheive their goal of gaining that full driving licence. I love the feeling I get after a pass and I still get really nervous for my pupils when they go out on test. I like to watch the progress that my pupils make, week after week, and often hear them saying things like “Do you remember when I couldn’t do that!”. It’s just lovely teaching people to drive, because it’s such a big part of life.

Is there anything you dislike about the job?

The positives of the job, definitely, out weigh any negatives, but, if I have to choose something, then, my biggest dislike would have to be other road users! I should say that doesn’t include everyone, as most drivers are good, but some people just dont have any patience at all with learner drivers. I don’t think they fuly apreciate how much their attitude can set back a learner driver, who may already be very nervous.

What are your interests/hobbies outside of driving instructing?

Outside of work, I love to excercise, and run whenever I can. Its just a passtime at the moment, so I’m not mega fast, but I’ve been doing 5km in around 27 minutes lately. I like to compete in various 10K events, and try to do the park run, on Stanley Park, every week.
Apart from excercise I love to socialise with friends and family, go on plenty of holidays and generally enjoy life! I don’t have any holidays coming up on the moment, but my favourite destination so far has been Santorini, which is where my husband and I enjoyed our honeymoon