Car nut Gemma Barker has become Britain’s youngest female driving instructor – at the age of just 23.
The former shop worker will now teach pupils nearly twice her age after she passed her Approved Driving Instructor test with an A grade.
Remarkably, she achieved the qualification, which can take a number of years, in just eight months, after quitting her previous job at WH Smith in October last year.
She had been determined to join the profession after passing her own driving test in February 2011 aged 17 – with just two minors.
And she was delighted when she achieved her goal on May 2 – at the age of 23 years, seven months and nine days.
This morning Gemma, who lives with her parents in Skegness, Lincs., said: “I got such a buzz out of passing my own driving test.
“I remember afterwards just thinking how amazing it must be to pass on a new skill to someone else.
“It’s something that can change somebody’s life, learning to drive, and the thought of being able to unlock someone potential like that has excited me for a long time.
“I hadn’t been too happy in my previous job, which I’d been in for six years.
“I felt it was time for a change, and when the opportunity to learn to be an instructor came up, I leapt on it.
“The learning process was difficult, and I had to commit full time to it.
“It’s a really tough process, with lots of different hoops to jump through.
“When I was told that I’d passed, I just couldn’t believe it.
“I kept having to check with the examiner that I’d actually done it, because it’s such a tough test.
“I’ve just been on cloud nine. I said to the examiner ‘am I one of the youngest’, and he said ‘I think so’.”
She was prepared for her test by Bob Taylor-Watson, 60, who runs local Clover driving school, and Gemma has since started sister school Clov-her.
Gemma now has a 25-strong set of pupils, the first of which will take their test in June.
Despite being decades younger than some of her trainees, Gemma says she is not put off by the age gaps.
She added: “It doesn’t affect me at all, it’s not something that I really pay attention to.
“The reality is that when you’re in the car, they’re there to learn, and they want your expertise.
“When you have that dynamic, you don’t pay attention to the age.
“When I finish work for the day and pause to think about it, it is quite strange, but that’s life.
“I get on well with all of them, and we have a good rapport.
“Things have been going really well so far, and I haven’t had any near misses or anything like that just yet.
“I think I’m set now. Being a driving instructor is what I want to do for the rest of my life, no question.”
Bob described the former St Clement’s College pupil’s achievement as “phenomenal”.
He added: “Twenty-three, okay, it can be done, but to come out with such a high grade as that and on her first attempt is really unusual.”
To train as a driving instructor, you must be aged 21 or over by the time you qualify, have held a driving licence for at least three years.
The test comes in three parts, including multiple choice questions and hazard perception, an eyesight test and vehicle safety questions, and a test on candidate’s ability to instruct pupils.
In 2016/17 just 35.9 per cent of candidates passed the final part of the test, with 905 men and 372 women overcoming it.