All over the world, when I meet people from the North East of Scotland, I ask them if they have heard of Lawrence of Kemnay. For those of you who don’t know, I am referring to a large and well-established car dealership which was founded by my Great Uncle Norman [Lawrence]. He is the brother of my Granddad, Ed Lawrence, known to me and my sister as Nandy.
Invariably, the people to whom I ask this question will give a positive response. They have heard of Lawrence of Kemnay. I am justifiably proud of Uncle Norman. He is a legend.
Uncle Norman left school at the age of thirteen. He initially earned an income by repairing bicycles. It’s a long story, but through a series of steps, he ended up running the largest car sales franchise in the North East of Scotland.
I know that this story is now three years old, but it has only just been brought to my attention. Uncle Norman is still alive and well, and driving, at the age of ninety-eight. This article was published when he was a mere ninety-five years old. As well as reading it, you should also watch the video.
A World War Two veteran has become the UK’s oldest motorist to pass an advanced driving test – at the age of 95.
Sprightly Norman Lawrence was left seething after hearing callers to a radio show saying pensioners should forfeit their licence when they reach the age of 90.
In a bid to prove them wrong, the retired businessman joined up with the Gordon Institute of Advanced Motorists and picked up his certificate faster than drivers half his age.
He was so determined to pass his test that he insisted he be placed in a group of participants who were already half-way through their course.
But after a few hours out on the roads with advanced drivers and a police instructor, it was clear Norman was ready for the test.
Norman, from Kemnay, Aberdeenshire, said: ‘I heard a radio programme that said people over 90 couldn’t drive and I wanted to prove them wrong.
‘I signed up with the Institute of Advanced Motorists and I think they thought I was joking to start with, but I said ‘Look, I’ve come here to pass my test’ and eventually they let me do it.
‘My instructor said I was a very aware, confident driver and that I was one of the best.
‘In my view, as long as you’ve got the confidence to drive, then there’s nothing stopping you, no matter how old you are.’
On the test, Norman had to drive through narrow country lanes and motorways, as well as performing a number of tricky parking manoeuvres, which he passed with flying colours.
The grandfather, who fought in Dunkirk and the Battle of El Alamein in 1942 said he has been driving for over 70 years and couldn’t live without his car.
He said: ‘I started driving when I was about 20, so in total it’s probably about 70-odd years experience I’ve got and I still love it.
‘My first car was a Morris Eight which was a real beauty and now I’ve got a Ford Mondeo, which is a cracking car, too.
‘I’m out in the car every day – golfing twice a week, bowls in the winter and I take a crowd of OAPs out every Sunday for a run and some lunch.
‘I’m a better driver now, than I was as a young man. You settle down as you get older and you don’t take the same risks.
‘Not that I get in other folks’ road, though. You won’t find me holding anybody up.’
John Buchan, the secretary of the IAM’s Gordon group, said: ‘He joined the group after all the other people had already started but Norman being Norman, he made sure he went out with other advanced drivers and even a police instructor and passed in no time at all.
‘He’s definitely our oldest advanced driver. People say there was once a 100-year-old who passed in England, but if that’s true it was a long time ago, so Norman is certainly the oldest around.
‘The examiner said he was an excellent driver. He’s confident, observant, his reactions are very good and there’s no hanging about below the speed limit.
‘He’s a great advert for older drivers.’