Don Mitchell, a soon-to-be centenarian, is breaking age barriers and shattering stereotypes by reviving his passion for driving. Turning 100 next year, Don exemplifies the idea that age is just a number when it comes to pursuing one's dreams, especially those that revolve around the freedom of the open road.
Don's journey back to the driver's seat began when he reluctantly gave up his driver's license at the age of 94 due to safety concerns. Having enjoyed five decades of driving, parting with his cherished privilege was a heartbreaking moment for him. However, fate had a delightful surprise in store for Don, thanks to the Together We Can initiative by Yorkare Homes based in the United Kingdom.
Gallery: 98-year-old drives car again
Don's unique driving adventure unfolded with the help of the Young Driver programme – a driving scheme primarily designed for individuals under the age of 17. Operating at private venues nationwide, Young Driver offers a safe and engaging way for young learners to gain hands-on driving experience, focusing on crucial skills such as steering, gear shifting, braking, handling junctions and roundabouts, and even parallel parking. Research has shown that this early exposure to responsible driving practices reduces accident rates among newly licensed drivers.
Remarkably, Young Driver imposes no upper age limit, welcoming individuals of all ages who harbor a desire to return to the driver's seat. Of the 1.3 million lessons given over the past 14 years, Don Mitchell stands as the oldest participant to date. His journey took him to the Defence School of Transport at Leconfield near Beverley, where he was entrusted with a Vauxhall Corsa equipped with dual controls, and a fully qualified instructor sat in the passenger seat.
“I was delighted to be able to get behind the wheel again, I was heartbroken to give up my license. My favourite ever car that I drove was a Morris Minor, it was a wonderful car and I could do all of the servicing on it myself. Which meant I eventually sold the car for more than I had purchased it for,” Don explained. “I think I still drove quite safely at 94 but there comes a time when it has to be given up. It was great to check I hadn’t forgotten all of my driving skills – and, like riding a bike, it all comes back to you.”