Amputee Tony, aged

9, a Young Driver

Young Driver, 2024, Tony Hudgell with car
Young Driver, 2024, Tony Hudgell with instructor
Young Driver, 2024, Tony Hudgell in car

DOUBLE amputee Tony Hudgell has surprised everyone by getting behind the wheel of a real car - aged just nine years old.

Thanks to Young Driver, which offers driving lessons to under 17s at venues across the country, Tony was able to learn how to drive a specially adapted hand-controlled car with the help of a fully qualified instructor.

Continuing to push the boundaries of every challenge he faces, Tony took to his first driving lesson like a pro, learning how to steer the car and control its speed with the use of special hand controls.

Tony endured life-changing injuries at only six weeks old and as well as his double amputation he continues to battle with health conditions which require ongoing treatment.

He captured the hearts of the nation during lockdown when, aged just five, he set about a sponsored 10km walk on his new prosthetic legs.

He, along with adoptive parents, subsequently set up the Tony Hudgell Foundation which aims to enhance the lives of children who have been affected by physical, emotional, or psychological abuse. To date he has raised over £1.8million for charities close to his heart and Tony was the youngest ever person to be recognised in the New Years Honours list 2024.

Sue Waterfield, head of marketing for Young Driver, said: "We saw Tony being interviewed on Good Morning Britain and he expressed his love of cars and how he'd love to be able to drive. We knew we could make that happen for him, so we got in touch with his family and invited them along to our South of England Showground venue in Kent. Given Tony's strong start behind the wheel at such a young age, we can see his skills are only going to refine and grow as he gets older. That's the whole purpose of what Young Driver does - to help youngsters learn in an unpressured and safe environment, so when they do go on to learn on the road, they already have a solid understanding of the physical elements of driving."

Paula Hudgell, Tony's adoptive mother, added: "Tony was nervous and excited before his lesson, but when he finished he had the biggest smile on his face! We couldn't believe how his confidence grew so quickly with the help of his instructor. I'm sure this is the start of a lifelong love of driving, it's been great to see, and we're so pleased he's been able to have this experience."

Young Driver has delivered more than 1.4 million lessons to 10-17 year olds since it launched in 2009, with the aim of creating a safer next generation of drivers. Whilst one in five newly qualified drivers in the UK will have an accident in the first six months after passing their test, for Young Driver past pupils it reduces to less than one in 25. The scheme can provide lessons for people with additional needs, with 70 venues across the UK.

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