A retired driving instructor from Rochdale has stepped back into the passenger seat in a bid to improve road safety in the area and to raise money for charity.
Bernard Lonergan began offering his services to the local community last year during Lent to raise funds for the international development charity, CAFOD. Instead of giving up chocolates or alcohol, Bernard decided he would do something different and give up his time to help make the roads safer.
Members of the Rochdale community have been signing up to spend a couple of hours on the road with Bernard, who offers tips and refreshers on both technical driving ability and the need to keep up to date with the Highway Code, which is updated every few years.
“All of the people who take part think it’s a nice experience,” Bernard said. “It’s good to refresh people’s memories on changing rules and road signs, which keeps people up to date.”
Drivers are not asked to pay Bernard for the refresher, but are invited to donate to CAFOD. “Most of all, it should keep people safer on the roads while raising money for a good cause. I don’t ask for payment, but those who take part are invited to donate however much or little they can to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal,” Bernard explains. “Sometimes during Lent, you can fall into a trap of doing something because you feel you have to. This is just a different look at Lent; changing the goal posts. You never know, it might prompt someone to look at Lent a little differently!”
“The whole experience was very enjoyable and informative,” Briege Sivills, who took part in one of the refresher drives, said. “I learned a lot from it, and I am so grateful to Bernard for the opportunity. The fact it is also raising money for a great cause is a brilliant added extra!”
Bernard is changing lives both locally and internationally, with the money raised helping CAFOD in its work combatting malnutrition in Zimbabwe by providing seeds and farming training for families and communities so that everyone has enough to eat.