Celebration of First Gear Course in Andover

Local teenagers, aged 14-17, from Andover were celebrated this week after completing a ‘First Gear’ course.

First Gear is a certificated Vehicle Education Programme, teaching the basics of car maintenance and good driving, aiming to encourage positive attitudes towards the responsibility of driving and owning a vehicle. It has shown to improve confidence and self-esteem, working as part of a team and improves organisational and decision-making skills.

The project was arranged by Anna Robinson, a community worker at St Paul’s Church, while Test Valley Community Services helped with organisation, and the project was funded by Aster, and was run with Sarah Jane Partner, from Test Valley Borough Council. Tesco provided sandwiches, made by Tesco Extra’s Community Champion, Sheryl Scott-Clarke, and McDonalds donated cups for everyone to drink their coffee from.

The young people involved were engaged on the course from Monday 27th Oct – 30th October 2014, and have learnt some crucial skills, including an accredited first aid course, the highway code, the importance of driving safely, experienced some hands-on basic mechanics, with the help of the Armed Forces at Larkhill Garrison, learnt to drive in Skodas and a Mazda and the grand finale was driving a Porsche around Thruxton circuit!

All twelve of the teenagers achieved crucial life skills for potential young drivers, which was a once in a lifetime experience full of positive engagement.

The celebration took place on the evening of Thursday 30th October at the King Arthurs Hall, King Arthurs Way, Andover, and was attended by the teens’ families, friends and local councillors, including the Mayor Cllr Jan Lovell.

The Mayor presented everyone with their certificates and told the room how proud she was of each and every one of the young people who had undertaken the course, and that they should be very proud of themselves as well.

17 year old Rob told Andover and Villages, “I was really very sceptical about the course, but I have genuinely loved every minute of it. Not only has it helped me with my own confidence, but I have watched it change us all as a group. Everyone seems so much more confident and outgoing than when we first came together.

“I am so grateful to Anna and SJ and for the opportunity they have given us. I have decided I want to go into Social Care as a job and would like to help on these courses in the future, because I know how much we get out of them.”

Rob’s Mum said, “I cannot believe the change in Rob. He has been up and out of bed every morning, raring to go. I cannot believe how confident he is today. This time last year, he was unable to leave the house after suffering terrible bullying at school and it resulting in anxiety and depression. I never thought I would see him able to talk confidently to a room full of people. I am so very proud of him.”

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Polly has almost 20 years in the media industry. As Editor of Andover and Villages, she strives to bring the latest and greatest news with a minutes notice. Polly can be contacted via editor@andoverandvillages.co.uk or alternatively called at