AS anyone who grew up in the rural Tyne Valley will know, passing your driving test is an almost essential part of life if you want to get around.

But the coronavirus crisis saw driving tests cancelled in March, leaving learners with tests booked in limbo.

However, lessons and tests were able to restart this week providing safety precautions were in place - and one of the district’s best known instructors decided to give something back to the key workers who had been working hard while many remained at home.

The Hexham Courant launched its bouquet of the week appeal in April to recognise the work of special citizens across the Tyne Valley.

This week’s recipient is Haydon Bridge resident Emma Court-Wilson, who is eager to get more drivers through their test as soon as possible.

She explained why she decided to offer a competition for key workers.

Emma said: “About a month ago, I decided that I was having nice time being paid to sit at home, but I knew a lot of people that didn’t have that.

“Some people were key workers and they were working more than usual and under a lot more pressure.

“So I thought it would be nice to give a little back. I ran a competition for key workers for five hours of driving tuition.

“I drew the competition last Thursday, and the winner was a lady called Lorraine Rutherford. She works at Waitrose and she’s been swamped with all the extra shoppers and precautions they have to go through.

“She’s been wanting to learn to drive for a while so this will give her the push.”

Driving instructors must take a range of precautions as they return to work, including wearing PPE, cleaning their vehicle between lessons and keeping the windows open.

Drivers taking their test are no longer allowed in the test centre, and instructors may not sit in the back of the car during test as they were before the pandemic.

It has proved a tough time for instructors, with little information on what precautions they should take.

Emma continued: “At the start of lockdown it was a worrying time due to loss of income. We weren’t aware of any grant until, I think, mid-April.

“Information has not been very forthcoming. The DVSA just haven’t kept in touch with instructors.

“I had pupils asking me when their test was going to be, but they didn’t realise I had the same information as them.

“I’ve prioritised lessons for pupils with driving tests booked, because if they don’t have their own car they won’t have driven for months. They need to drive.

“We still haven’t been given guidance on PPE, so we’re having to come up with it ourselves. I’m going to be wearing a mask and a visor.”

Nominate somebody for Bouquet of the Week here.