A 17-year-old passed his driving theory and practical test in just 24 hours by booking one in a town he’d never been to – and avoided a queue of 250,000 people.
Canny Henry Nell bagged his driving licence in record time – despite huge backlogs because of Covid.
Henry started taking driving lessons just before lockdown – but only managed to squeeze in a few before they were stopped.
Undeterred he passed his theory test but was gutted when he found out there was a 243,000 person queue to do his practical exam near his home town.
But he soon realised if he opted to take his test in a random location – further away from London – he was able to skip the two month back log his pals were in.
So he took his practical test just 24 hours later in St Albans, Herts., – more than an hours drive from his home and a town he’d never even been to.
And he passed first time, with seven minors.
The proud schoolboy from Saffron Walden, Essex, said: “I was fairly confident going into the theory test – I’d done quite a lot of revision work on the DVSA app but I wasn’t going to say it was a sure fire pass.
“Booking my practical just an hour after passing my theory definitely felt like a bit of a surreal pipe dream that wasn’t really going to work but I thought I’d ask my parents, see what they thought and go for it if I could.
“Passing my practical test the next day was honestly just the best feeling. My friends have to wait until November to sit their practicals at our local test centre which is why I decided to book at St Albans.
“The first drive I took on my own felt a bit illegal or wrong, it was a weird feeling but I’m used to it now and I love driving.
“I’m always up for picking up my little sister or do any errands – my parents love it, I’m definitely now their taxi driver!
“I’m one of the first in my friendship group and year at school to be able to drive to school so my friends are quite jealous, if I’m honest!”
Henry started lessons just after his 17th birthday in February 2020 but only managed to complete six paid lessons before lockdown.
His parents continued to teach him to drive in their car during lockdown and sat his theory test at 8am on September 16.
Henry immediately booked his practical test for the following morning in St Albans – a town he had never even visited, 40 miles from his home.
Mum Katie drove him to the centre for his test at 8am and was amazed when the schoolboy emerged an hour later with a pass certificate in his hand.
His accomplishment has astonished friends who spoke of sitting in a 243,000 person Covid queue when trying to book their practical tests on the DVSA website, closer to home.
His mum Katie, a self-employed utility warehouse partner said: “I was elated for him – just really proud and chuffed.
“His test was 40 miles from where we live and he’d never even been there before but we’d been training him to be a good driver everywhere, not just his local town.
“He wasn’t at all nervous and just said he was viewing it as a little drive – people often get nervous in the weeks approaching their tests but he didn’t have time to as he booked it so quickly!
“Our family are very proud of him but also amazed at just how quickly he’s been able to do the tests, especially with how long the waiting lists are due to lockdown.”
Henry’s friends who also passed their theory tests in September now have to wait two months in order to sit their practical tests after booking at their local Bishop’s Stortford test centre.
He shares a car with his sister Emily, 19, and has already inspired his little sister Florence, 15, who has now started talking about when she can learn to drive.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency have confirmed that whilst Henry’s experience is not a unique case, his achievement is certainly not a regular occurrence.
A DVSA spokesperson said: “We’d like to congratulate Henry on successfully passing his theory and practical driving tests in such quick succession.
“DVSA’s priority is to help everyone through a lifetime of safe driving. We assess a candidate’s ability to drive safely and responsibly along with making sure they know the theory behind safe driving.
“Henry has shown that being prepared for both the theory and practical tests is the key to success.”