Congratulations to Thomas, he’s back behind the wheel!

Thomas Marshall, from Shetland, started driving six years ago when he was 17. Unfortunately, last year on 30th October 2018 he suffered an accident at work – falling 20ft off of a roof – sustaining a severe traumatic brain injury and other physical injuries. Now, a little over a year later, Thomas is on the road to recovery! Here’s what he had to say about passing his test at our Welwyn Garden City assessment centre. Plus he also offers some essential advice for those looking to get back behind the wheel after a serious injury…

Left to right: Driving Assessor Mark Thackeray, the titular Thomas Marshall, and Occupational Therapist Jane Baker

Firstly, thank you taking your assessment with HAD. How did you find out about us?
Research on the internet, speaking to HAD and the DVLA.

Why did you choose Welwyn Garden City as a location to take your assessment?
My dad lives in Welwyn, so I had a few driving lessons here whilst I was learning to drive. Driving in Shetland is very different to driving on the mainland!

How did your assessment go? How do you feel?
My assessment went really well, especially as I had not driven for a year. It felt really good getting behind the wheel again!

Please could you tell us more about the experience – were you nervous? Was it fun? Exciting?
I didn’t have any nerves once I had met the Occupational Therapist (Jane) and the Driving Assessor (Mark). They were so friendly and they went through the process with me so I knew what to expect. It was really fun showing off my driving abilities!

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 started driving six years ago when I was 17. Unfortunately last year on 30th October 2018 I had an accident at work. I fell 20ft off of a roof and sustained a severe traumatic brain injury and other physical injuries, which have since healed. The reason that my driving licence was revoked was because with TBI’s your cognitive functioning can be affected – which is key for driving – for example, coming to a junction and being able to process if there’s a car coming from the right, being able to change gears and look in your mirrors etc.

Please could you tell us more about your own inspiring story, from how you sustained your injury and how this has impacted on your life, also, do you have a positive message for others who have sustained a head injury?
I am a qualified Joiner. It has affected my life quite significantly. I’m still not able to work, I have to rely on people to give me lifts (as the bus service where I live is unreliable) and my relationship with my three year old son has changed.

I went from working 50-60 hours a week and being a dad on a weekend to not working at all and at the present time no longer having my son come and stay with me.

I think getting my licence back will help improve my relationship with my son. I will be able to take him to the park like we used to every weekend.

Would you recommend HAD to your friends, if so, why?
Yes, all of the staff are really friendly from the moment you arrive at HAD. They make sure you understand the process before you start and put you at ease.

Finally, do you have any advice for someone who is looking to get back behind the wheel?
Just try to be patient, it is frustrating having your independence taken away but it does get easier with time. I applied in April 2019 to get my driving licence back and it is only now, November 2019, that I have taken the assessment. The main thing I would say is don’t doubt yourself, be confident in your abilities and if you’re not sure of something then ask.

Returning to driving? HAD can help you gain greater independence behind the wheel. For details of our current fees, please contact us on 01707 324 581 or email customerservice@hertsability.org.uk

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