A great grandmother in Western Australia has learnt to drive for the first time at the age of 75 so she can help her older sister get to the doctor.
Winnie Sampie, from Port Hedland in the Pilbara region, obtained her provisional licence last week, despite many people telling her she had left it too late to learn how to drive.
The 75-year-old said she had learned to drive years ago ‘out in the bush’, when she was younger, but never bothered to get her licence.
Instead, Winnie would walk everywhere. However, after being diagnosed with arthritis, she needed a mobility scooter to get around.
Despite the scooter allowing her to keep her independence, Winnie said it reminded her she had always wanted to get her driving licence.
She told NITV News:
I was planning on getting it for a long, long time but I know everybody thought I left it too late.
Winnie was determined though, and said she wanted to be able to drive her older sister to the doctor for regular checkups.
Bloodwood Tree Association, a local not-for-profit organisation, helped Winnie with the application process and getting her Leaner Permit.
The association’s driving instructor, Tanya Holman, said Winnie was the oldest participant they’d ever had.
She had a Learner’s permit [and] she did go to other driving schools, but it gets expensive.
A lot of the time, Winnie said she had to stop having lessons. There were big breaks in between. She couldn’t afford it. She’s on a pension.
In a post on Facebook, the Bloodwood Tree Association said:
Now with her drivers licence, Winnie will now be able to help her older sister to medical appointments, shopping and be able to take their dog for a run to the beach. Importantly she will not have to rely and/or ask other people for lifts or pay for taxi’s [sic].
Bloodwood Tree are all incredibly happy for Winnie on this achievement, and we are sure Winnie and her story will be an encouragement to others.
Despite a few difficulties getting to grips with the hazard perception test, as she’d never used a computer before, the 75-year-old passed her driving test on the first attempt.
I’m so proud of myself for achieving that. It took me a long time but I got it.
Now she has received her full driving licence, Winnie is looking forward to getting her own car, hoping her artwork – which is on display in the local art gallery – will sell well enough so she can afford one.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.