Write up - 2009 - Observer Training Day

Location: Cobham Sports Centre, Wimborne
Date: 19 September 2009


Our chief Observer telephoned me sometime in June, I think it was, and told me about this Observer Training Day which was scheduled to take place at Cobham Sports Centre, Wimborne on 19th September and I surprised him by saying, Yes, I would come.


Why did I surprise him?


I have been physically disabled since 2007, being an above-knee amputee, and still using 2 sticks outside the home but I have always enjoyed driving and love cars.  I debated with myself over the next 2 months as to whether I attended – what would be the reception I received?  I am not young, a female and in my mind, to ‘totter’ into a roomful of mostly men, would perhaps undermine my confidence in attending.


However, I need not have worried.


I parked in the Disabled’ space, and saw Andy Poulton who gave me a grin before going in.  I was met with much kindness from, I found out, the Bournemouth contingent who produced a welcome cup of coffee for me.


To begin the day we all trooped into the large lecture room where after a preliminary introduction, Andy Poulton explained the day’s procedure.  We would be split into pairs and allocated an examiner to accompany us in our respective cars.  The Dorchester Group were to go during the morning, which left two of us with the Bournemouth group.


The ensuing discussion with Andy covered all aspects of Observing and what would be expected of us (and by our Associates). He was particularly keen on all of us having current manuals, my colleague and I being the only ones with out-of-date copies. We were also given a Handout File which contains a wealth of information which we should already be using but is sometimes mislaid at the back of the memory!


Lunch was served about 1pm and proved to be very enjoyable, an excellently varied menu.


Our hard work came in the afternoon, one of us observing and one driving and our examiner giving us route directions as we went.  I realised how important it was for us, as Observers, to make our Associates feel comfortable at their wheel and to enjoy the experience.


The route was quite tortuous at first, a narrow country, but inhabited lane.  I formed the impression it was used as a ‘rat run’ but on this Saturday, we encountered two lots of horses being led, quite a few cars and people walking and cycling.  We eventually arrived at a roundabout which led us indirectly to the roundabout on the A31 going east which, to me, was very familiar.  The road was quite busy and with people turning into the RoadChef, petrol station and caravan sales site, there was quite enough to engage our attention, particularly with an unknown examiner in the rear.  Both of us were asked to give a running commentary and I don’t think either of us were short of words.


At  the end of each run, our examiner summed up the points we had both ‘incurred’, good and bad and gave each of us a piece of paper with completely indecipherable writing on it!  The day was very informative and constructive.  I realised there were some holes in my Observing skills which needed mending and honing – I would readily attend again as there are always new things to learn and new areas to explore.


Words: Anne Vear

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