Inspiring Laurie passes driving test
A TEENAGE motocross rider who was paralysed from the chest down in a horrific accident is celebrating after passing her driving test.Laurie Squirrell, who lives in Hitcham, aced the nerve-wracking exam at the first attempt yesterday, after just a handful of lessons.
A TEENAGE motocross rider who was paralysed from the chest down in a horrific accident is celebrating after passing her driving test.
Laurie Squirrell, who lives in Hitcham, aced the nerve-wracking exam at the first attempt yesterday, after just a handful of lessons.
She can now gleefully rip the L-plates off her specially modified mini - and plans to use her new-found independence to get out into the working world.
The 17-year-old spent months in hospital after breaking her back in a high-speed crash as she was practising for her first professional motocross race in San Antonio, USA, last year.
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Returning home in March, Laurie set her sights on learning to drive - and the experience gained from her motocross background proved invaluable.
Last night, she said: "I'm so excited - I just want to drive everywhere. I haven't got out of my car all day.
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"I think my experience on bikes helped me to pass quickly because you know about the concept of breaking and accelerating.
"I suppose I've actually been driving cars at home since I was ten years old, and I think that helped me as well."
Laurie took the test in her mini - which boasts modified accelerator and brake pedals - in Colchester, after just two months and "eight or nine" driving lessons.
"I was confident," she said. "My instructor told me I was a good driver and that I would pass, but you just never know.
"I got really nervous beforehand, but I think that was a good thing."
And, after enduring the test which every teenager dreads, Laurie was delighted to pass with just eleven minor faults.
She said: "I sat there after the test and the driving instructor was looking at her sheet but I counted up the minor faults and realised I'd passed before she told me - I was so happy."
Laurie thanked her driving instructor, Ashley Hubbard, for his help in getting her through the test - and said she is now preparing to tackle another challenge.
She said: "I'm probably going to start work now so that should be a challenge. I've got a job lined up at a motocross clothing company called So-Cal.
"It's based in Ipswich so it's not too far. I think I'll be doing things like promotion and sponsoring other riders.
"I'm really looking forward to it. I can't wait."