A twelve-year-old schoolgirl is to take part in the national final of a driving competition - despite having had only one driving lesson.
And Anna Farnell - who is at least five years away from getting her licence - admits to being surprised at finding herself in the final after her limited experience behind the wheel.
Anna, from Sayers Common, is one of 40 finalists all aged between 10 and 17 taking part in the Young Driver Challenge 2018 next week.
She won her place at the final after being judged during her very first lesson at the Young Driver scheme’s Horsham venue.
The Young Driver Challenge final takes place on September 22 at the Fire Service College at Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, where emergency services’ drivers are taught their skills.
The Challenge is itself is run by Young Driver, the country’s largest provider of pre-17 driving tuition. The emphasis is on encouraging youngsters to be safer drivers by helping them master the skills off-road and at a younger age.
At the final, the drivers will be marked on driving skills and manoeuvres, including parallel parking, emergency stops, steering, judgement and positioning, as well as having to undertake independent driving.
Anna, a pupil at Downlands Community School in Hassocks, said: “I was really surprised and excited when I found out I was a finalist, as I have only had one lesson.
“When I had my first lesson, I was most worried about the gears, as they seem confusing. But my instructor introduced me slowly and made sure I was comfortable every step of the way. I think this will really help me when it comes to getting on the road when I am 17.
“I think after my lesson I am comfortable behind the wheel and am confident on the road and I wish all the other finalists good luck.”
Laura White, head of marketing at Young Driver, added: “She’s done brilliantly to make the final, particularly after only one lesson, which is very rare, and should feel very proud of herself.
“Every year we’re stunned at the quality of drivers we have entering the Young Driver Challenge – they all take the responsibility of being behind the wheel very seriously and have obviously been paying attention to every word their instructor tells them.
“The Challenge is a great way to celebrate the hard work they’ve done, and to show the benefits of pre-17 driving education. When you see the youngsters driving, it becomes fairly obvious that the extended experience, and having started at a younger age, is a positive thing for all of our safety when it comes to them getting on the roads for real.”