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Laindon teen makes national driving awards final

30th August 2019
Posted by Johnny Jenkins

A 16-year old from Laindon has made the final of a national driving competition, beating off stiff competition from around the country – despite being some months away from being able to get their driving licence.

Denholm Blake, who has just finished at Billericay School and will shortly be starting at South Essex College, will be one of 20 finalists in their age category at the Young Driver Challenge 2019. The Challenge is run by Young Driver, the UK’s largest provider of pre-17 driving lessons. Pupils drive dual controlled Vauxhall Corsas on private land with a fully qualified instructor and learn the skills needed to be a safe and responsible driver.

Denholm has had several lessons at the scheme’s Bluewater venue, one of more than 65 across the country. Pupils were able to enter the competition throughout Spring and were marked by their instructor on key driving techniques. Twenty pupils from across the UK will compete in each of two categories – 10-13 and 14-16 – at a final to be held on 7th September at the NEC. Hosting the final will be Vicki Butler-Henderson and Quentin Willson, who have both been presenters on ‘Fifth Gear’ and ‘Top Gear’.

Finalists will compete in a number of driving challenges, including manoeuvring a slalom, undertaking different types of parking, controlling an emergency brake and confidently tackling independent driving. The Challenge encourages youngsters to consider responsible and safe driving, with top marks given to those who show the best levels of control and awareness. Prizes up for grabs include £200, 10 one-hour Young Driver lessons, family restaurant vouchers and signed copies of Quentin Willson’s latest book ‘Learn to Drive Without Tears and Tantrums’.

Young Driver aims to develop a safer next generation of young drivers, by extending their learning over a longer period. It has delivered more than 740,000 lessons over the last 10 years. One in five young drivers has an accident within the first six months after passing their test – a figure which halves for Young Driver past pupils.

Denholm said:

“I was surprised to have made the final of the Young Driver Challenge 2019! Learning to drive before the age of 17 has been a great experience. Driving is lots of fun, I really enjoy it!  It’s great to be able to drive and I am looking forward to the real thing. I’ll be able to get experience in traffic, pay more attention to what is going on around me and other road users. I am looking forward to the Challenge final – it would be great to win!”

Sue Waterfield, head of marketing for Young Driver, said:

“Every year the quality of driving we see from these young people astounds us. They take their learning very seriously, and it’s a great way of reinforcing all those important safety messages when they don’t have the pressure of trying to pass a test as quickly as possible. The Challenge final is always the highlight of our calendar and it will be fantastic to have Vicki and Quentin there this year, cheering on our worthy finalists. Congratulations to Denholm, who has already done so well, beating hundreds of other entrants. We wish you every luck for the final.”

For more information about Young Driver go to