A teenager has driven off with a top award – a year before he can legally take to the road.
Christian Dickens, from Longbenton, has been named Britain’s best young driver at the 2015 Young Driver Challenge.
Each of the finalists had their driving abilities assessed by judges from across the field of motoring.
Christian, who goes to Longbenton Community College, impressed the judges with his control of the vehicle, precise manoeuvres and quick thinking behind the wheel.
He won 20 Young Driver lessons, 20 ‘on the road’ post-17 driving lessons courtesy of Goodyear, a Young Driver at School session and £500 off a car insurance premium.
Christian, who has recently taken up karting, said: “All I have ever wanted to do is to learn to drive. I was so thrilled when I made the national final. I knew that there would be many very good young drivers competing and I was just extremely proud to be considered one of them.”
“The competition was really tough.
“We had to show our skills in parallel parking, reverse slalom, tight steering, emergency stops and turns in the road, as well as take on an independent driving test.
“When my name was called out and I was presented with the trophy and told that I was the winner, I couldn’t believe it.
“I didn’t know what to say. I thought that I was dreaming. I still can’t believe I won.
“Young Driver has given me a great understanding of how to drive, and how to keep myself and others safe on the roads.
“I am so pleased to be able to share my success with my school friends, as they will be able to try out a lesson as part of my prizes.
“Young Driver has inspired me so much that I wanted to improve my skills further.
“I would like to say a big thank you to all of my instructors at Gateshead and everyone at Young Driver for all their encouragement and for giving me such a fabulous day.”
Kim Stanton, who heads up the Young Driver scheme, said: “I’d like to say a huge well done to all of our finalists – and of course especially to Christian, who really did deserve to take home the title.
“He gave a fantastic demonstration of just how good a driver a young person can be and should be very proud of his skills behind the wheel.
“The aim of Young Driver has always been to create a safer next generation of drivers, by teaching them over a longer period of time, to provide a more thorough understanding.”
For more information on the Young Driver scheme visit www.youngdriver.eu