One Ella’va journey!

One Ella’va journey!
Ella Dove was 25, single & lovin’ the London life when a freak accident changed everything. Here’s how she found hope amid the despair and adapted to the biggest change someone would ever have to face! Plus, Ella offers some essential advice for anyone looking to get back behind the wheel after a serious injury. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story!

Ella at HAD’s Harlow Driving Centre with Instructor, Mark and Occupational Therapist Sarah

Firstly, thank you taking your assessment with HAD. How did you find out about us?

Through the Ford press office, who set up my driving assessment.

Why did you choose Harlow as a location?

It was the nearest suitable assessment centre to my home in Stratford, East London.

How did your assessment go?

I’m told I was ‘better than the average’, which was very pleasing to hear! I was initially quite nervous but I really enjoyed the experience, and I definitely felt myself progressing in confidence and ability as the session went on. The HAD test track at Harlow is a fantastic idea, and a great way to ease back into driving again having not driven for six years!

Ella visits TV’s ‘Lorraine’ show to explain her journey

Please could you tell us more about the experience: Were you nervous? Was it fun? Exciting?

I was definitely nervous! I wouldn’t describe myself as a confident driver to start with; I’ve always been quite cautious behind the wheel, so I did feel myself gripping the wheel quite tightly and moving like a snail to start with! However, my road sense is still there, which was comforting, and it didn’t feel as alien as I thought it would. By the end of the session, I was really enjoying it and I left feeling very proud of myself – it was an enormous milestone!

Please could you tell us more about your own personal journey behind the wheel: when you started driving and how your disability may have affected this journey, and what you’ve done to overcome this…

I passed my test when I was 18, and drove a manual car after that. However, when I moved to London in 2014, the car stayed at my parents’ house as I had no need for it. Then, in 2016 I had a freak accident where I tripped over while out jogging, fracturing and dislocating my knee. The injuries were so severe that the circulation was cut off to my foot, and I had to have my right leg amputated below the knee. All of this means I hadn’t driven for about six years – until yesterday.

Would you recommend HAD to your friends?

Definitely. I’ve had a fantastic experience.

Finally, do you have any advice for someone who is looking to get back behind the wheel?

I’d say have courage. Confidence for me is the biggest barrier (that and my poor spatial awareness, but I’m working on that!), so it was more a psychological push to get myself back behind the wheel than a logistical one. Getting used to an automatic – especially with adapted pedals and using my left foot for everything – isn’t easy, and although I’ve pressed the wrong pedal a few times, the more I do it, the more confident I know I’ll feel. So, go for it! Don’t let fear hold you back!


Click here to read more about Ella’s personal journey, as told to The Guardian. Also, HAD are pleased to announce the opening of our NEW OUTREACH DRIVING CENTRE in Harlow, Essex! This new facility – based at The Road Safety Centre, Edinburgh Way – offers us the chance to conduct off-road Driving Assessments for non-licence holders as it has a dedicated track with a roundabout, traffic lights and junctions! HAD will be at Harlow every Thursday offering two assessments a day. For more information and to book an appointment call 01707 324251 or email driving@hertsability.org.uk. A big thanks to our partners EXL Driving School and Driving Mobility for making this possible!

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