ALMOST 80 years behind the wheel as a driving instructer – it’s one L of an achievement!
Ninety-four year-old Laura Thomas, of Pembroke Dock, is a local legend, having taught thousands of drivers, including four generations of some families.
And she has no plans to hang up the L plates any time soon.
Mrs Thomas’ passion began when her brother, Bob Davies, a Whitland garage owner, bought her a car for Christmas in 1938.
Passing her test first time at Tenby that February, Mrs Thomas has been a driving instructor since the age of 18.
“We were very good pals, my brother and I,” said Mrs Thomas, originally from Llanteg.
“I could not wait to get on the road. It was quite unusual to have a car back then.”
News of her accomplishment spread and when Mrs Thomas returned from Tenby there were already two people asking for driving tips.
Things really took off after the war. Cars became more common and all of a sudden people from miles around were asking Mrs Thomas to teach them.
“Everybody came to me - I was busy all day, every day,” she said. “It just grew and grew.”
In 1951, Mrs Thomas moved to Pembroke Dock. Despite intending to stop teaching and having never advertised, she was inundated with students.
Mrs Thomas remembers the steering wheel coming off in one man’s hand after she asked him to perform an emergency stop.
“I’ve never failed to stop a car with the handbrake,” said Mrs Thomas, who has always taught without dual controls.
“I have had scares but I have had a lot of laughs too.
“It’s one big laugh. I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. It’s nice getting to know so many different people.”
Mrs Thomas’ daughter, Joan Stace, added: “She’s still telling me how to drive. When we’re out and about, she says ‘Do you realise you have failed your test there?’
“I sometimes throw my hands up in horror and say maybe you should take some time to relax mum, but she always has and always will do her own thing.”