Anne Wagner and Nicole

By Paul O'Rourke

Anne Wagner (pictured) has been driving since she was 13 and has taught more than 20 people to drive over more than six decades.

Anne, 78, has been a driver mentor with Devonport Chaplaincy since 2014 and has the triple honour of being the most senior mentor, the equal longest serving, and the most successful.

None of her students have failed to get their licence under her patient instruction.

“I learned to drive on the farm at Stowport when I was 13,” she said.

“My twin brother was big enough to bale hay, so I helped out by driving the truck.

It probably didn’t get out of first gear, but I had to steer and stop and start.”

The former art teacher at Leighland Christian School and WEC missionary in The Netherlands has helped teach her two children and five grandchildren to drive, as well as many friends and referrals through the Devonport Easy Ps driver mentoring program.

Driving means freedom

“I love being able to teach someone a new skill,” she said.

“I love to see people get freedom, self-confidence and employment, all because they got their licence.

“I’ve mainly taught people who don’t have anyone to teach them or don’t have a vehicle to drive.

“Some just need a bit of finishing off, learning to reverse park, that sort of thing.”

Many of her students have been single mums, including her current student, Nicole Harding (pictured with Anne), from Latrobe, who wants to get her licence to get a job in hospitality.

Nicole has clocked up about 30 of the required 50 hours before she can take her licence test.

'I’d love to do that'

Anne learned about the driver mentor program through her church, C3 Devonport.

“Our pastor Brian Webber was involved in the mentoring program at Devonport High, and chaplaincy and student mentoring has been a big part of our church.

“When they started talking about driver mentoring it was like a light bulb went on.

“I thought, ‘I’d love to do that.’”

Both Anne and Nicole agree that the informal discussion about life, work and family while out on the road are as important as the driving skills.

“I have one previous student with whom I have a strong relationship who still rings me as she doesn’t have much family support.”