The Big Learner Relay

833. Louise Walsh (Lymington)

Louise Walsh, from Hampshire, is the founder of ‘The Big Learner Relay’, which has raised over £250,000 for ‘Children in Need’ since 2014.

After watching the show in 2013 and thinking of new ways to fundraise for charity, Louise brought together fellow driving instructors for a nationwide relay. Louise coordinates the entire 3,000 mile route over 15 days, involving over 130 lead instructors from across the UK, with thousands more taking part in the convoy and sponsoring cars marked with ‘Children in Need’ stickers. The annual relay has raised a total of £250,000 and this year will finish on this day, to mark ‘Children in Need’, at Knowsley Safari Park, Liverpool.

In a personal letter to Louise, Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“By founding ‘The Big Learner Relay’ as part of ‘Children in Need’, you have not only raised £250,000 in vital support for disadvantaged children, but also created a vibrant community of volunteers. You should feel an extraordinary sense of achievement in coordinating a relay that covers over 3,000 miles in 15 days and for bringing together people from all corners of the UK for an entertaining annual fundraising event.”

Louise said:

“This award is accepted on behalf of all the wonderful Driving Instructors and pupils that had enough belief that my little idea four years ago was, quite literally, worth following.  The Driving Instructor Industry is proud to have raised £320,000 for ‘Children in Need’ so far.  Whilst bringing together instructors from across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales for an event that not only supports such a worthy cause but also unites instructors in camaraderie, friendship and mutual support in what can be an isolating industry.  Being able to facilitate the ‘Big Learner Relay’ to make all of this possible is a privilege and an honour.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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