By the time most people hit pension age, they think about slowing down and taking it easy. But Chris Lowndes is not most people. Far from easing into his autumn years, the 65-year-old with autism and diabetes has just started having driving lessons.
For Chris, the difference has been made thanks to a change in his diabetes care. He had been required to be at home for long periods of the day so that specialist diabetes nurses could administer his insulin treatments, but this changed after he moved into CMG Bushey Hall Road, a specialist residential service for adults with learning disabilities in Hertfordshire, 18 months ago.
Staff at Bushey Hall have been trained so Chris’ insulin could be administered on the move by his key worker, allowing Chris the freedom to fully pursue his lifelong passion for cars.
Initially, Chris visited local car shows such as ‘Classics on the Green’ near Watford, but he was soon travelling around the country with his key worker to take in all the motoring world has to offer, including watching Top Gear being filmed.
But Chris wanted to go further and get behind the wheel. And, when staff at CMG found out about Sirens Driving Academy, which teaches people with learning disabilities to drive on a nearby airfield, he could achieve his ambition.
Chris has not looked back since the driving lessons began – he now speeds around the airfield regularly reaching 60mph. He is such a popular character at Sirens that he is often invited down to enjoy a quick lap in a variety of supercars, including his favourite, the Lamborghini Murcielago.
Tammy Finch, home manager at CMG Bushey Hall Road, said: “After only a couple of months living here Chris was far more confident and talkative and he has continued to progress personally, and he is now a real character at CMG Bushey Hall Road.
“His progression in the driving seat has been great as well. It’s fantastic to see him motoring around the track every Saturday morning – an experience which for so long was unavailable to him.”
Chris added: “I love my driving lessons. My car is a blue Ford Fiesta and I really like the doors.
“It’s very good.”