Leamington driving instructor celebrates 40 years at the wheel after teaching generations of families in town
"I've always got a sense of achievement from helping people to pass their driving test and people remember you for the rest of their lives"
A Leamington driving instructor will mark 40 years of teaching residents around the town next month.
Dharam Veer Awesti set up the Shire Driving School on April 1 (April Fool's Day) 1981.
But despite the day being notorious for practical jokes and hoaxes, Dharam has shown that his idea to go into business of his own was anything but - and he is now teaching the third generation of learners from families in and around South Leamington where he lives.
Dharam, 69, moved from India to Leamington in 1963.
He was a pupil at Clapham Terrace Primary School and Aylesford School and his first job was working as an apprentice sheet metal worker at Warwick Production.
But he realised that there was an opportunity to teach driving to members of the Indian community who worked at factories in and around the town and whose first language was not English.
It not long after that he set up Shire using a Ford Escort MK 1 as the first car he taught learners in.
Dharam said: "I've always got a sense of achievement from helping people to pass their driving test and people remember you for the rest of their lives.
"They never never forget their driving instructor and I might have given some of them a hard time but I have also made a lot of friends and many people still wave to me when I pass by in my car."
Dharam has taught people how to drive who were in their 60s and he said that once one family member would be taught by him others have often followed.
These days his son Ash, 45, has taken on the running of the business but Dharam still gives lessons with both men now using Vauxhall Corsas.
Dharam said: "We tend to use the cars which a lot of people buy and are small, cheap to run and reliable.
"But one thing that I must mention is how much driving has changed over the years.
"I get a lot of enjoyment out of driving but it has become much more difficult to pass a test these days with the theory test, maneuvers and the requirement to be able to drive at 70mph on A roads and motorways being brought in and more complex road layouts and junctions being used these days."
Under current restrictions and rules due to Covid-19, Dharam and Ash have not been able to run the school for about a year now.
Dharam said: "Hopefully we will be able to re-open in April and we can get learners back out on the road again soon."