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Driving test success gives gift of freedom to amputee


A 53-year-old Beyond Housing tenant’s dream of passing her driving test has come true – against all the odds.

For the last eleven years Filey resident Vikki Gardner has battled to overcome the mobility limitations imposed on her by the through-hip leg amputation which, at one point, threatened to claim her life.

Vikki said, “Septicaemia had left my surgeon with no choice but to perform this very serious kind of total leg amputation.

“I learned later that, at that point in his career, he’d only carried out this procedure on three occasions and sadly the other two patients had not survived!”

Vikki was eventually discharged from hospital to begin her long and painful recovery. After parting from her long-term partner, who felt unable to be a part of her radically changed new life, she moved from Liverpool to join her parents in Filey.

A succession of new year’s resolutions to learn to drive went unfulfilled until, prompted by her parents moving from Filey to Malton, Vikki’s determination to gain the freedom of the open road led her to seek out a driving instructor who could work around her mobility problem.

“My parents’ move was the first thing to get me started”, she explained, “With my disability, travelling the 25 miles to Malton and back on public transport would have been a nightmare. That was my initial reason but, at that time, I didn’t really think I could do it, and I probably wouldn’t have succeeded without the support of Jodie Pearson, my Beyond Housing tenancy management advisor who had been helping me through a difficult time over a period of months.

“Jodie encouraged me, built me up one step at a time and restored my confidence to the point where a course of driving lessons could become a reality. Jodie’s an amazing person. She’s literally changed my life.”

In January this year Vikki’s determination and Jodie’s encouragement were rewarded as Vikki passed her test with flying colours. Since then she’s become the owner of a shiny new car that has given her the freedom she’d so often dreamed of.

She’s also been able to answer the question that many of her friends had asked her: “Where will you go on your first drive in your new car?” Vikki had always replied with the same joking answer, “Oh, that’ll definitely be McDonald’s drive through.” But now even that ambition has been crossed off her to-do list, “I found it a bit tricky at first, leaning out of the car window to pay for my meal”, she explained, “but after ten or so visits I’m getting the hang of it!”

Jason Lowe, Head of Independent and Supported Living at Beyond Housing said, “Vikki is a remarkable lady and an inspiration to all of us. It’s pleasing to hear how long-standing support from Beyond Housing colleagues, and Jodie in particular, has enabled her to overcome the considerable barriers that could so easily have prevented her from living an independent life. Now fully mobile, we sincerely hope that Vikki continues to live and experience life to the full.”