Mary Reid died at the Forth Valley Royal Hospital yesterday morning, less than 24 hours after being admitted.
For 18 years, she and her husband Brian led Reid’s driver training, helping novice drivers gain enough confidence, skills and knowledge to pass their exam and hit the road.
The Carronshore couple started the business in 2004 and have since grown it to become the largest independent driving instructor business in the region.
At their peak, nine other instructors were working with them and, although a couple left during the pandemic, there are now eight instructors and another in training, to help learner drivers of all ages acquire the necessary skills behind the wheel. .
Brian said: “Mary loved her job and the people she taught loved her.
“She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about eight months ago and until November it did not affect her too much. However, she only gave up teaching three weeks ago when she was no longer physically able to continue.
“We were both supposed to be semi-retired but now unfortunately we won’t be able to enjoy it together.”
Great driving ambition now reality
He said that just hours before he died, he was told by a member of the hospital nursing staff that his partner was the last successful learner driver Mary had taught, taking his test three weeks earlier.
Born in Camelon, was one of six children – sisters Marion, Helen, Patricia and Ann, who sadly died, and brother Peter, who also died several years ago.
She had many jobs, including a seamstress at the Camelon Wrangler factory, a bus cleaner, a valet at Square Deal Motors, Union Chemicals and it was while she was a delivery driver at Lucas in Bankside that she met Brian 38 years ago. The couple have been married for 36 years.
While working at the electronics company Exabyte in Larbert, Mary had the opportunity to go to America for three months. She found a strength in helping people learn driving skills when her colleagues struggled to master the rental cars they were using.
Brian said: “Someone said she should become an instructor and shortly after, when Exabyte announced it was closing, that’s what we both decided to do.”
The couple dated for 18 months before launching their own business. One of the first things they did was run a competition with The Falkirk Herald to give away ten free lessons to one lucky winner, but they also gave away one free lesson to everyone who entered.
Their first pupil, Sharon Ure, was among hundreds of people who expressed their sadness at Mary’s passing as news spread.
Tributes included “leaves a big hole in our community,” “a wonderful instructor,” and a former student said, “Mary was my instructor many years ago and I still hear her voice when I drive today.”
Mary is survived by her husband Brian, her three sisters and three stepsons, Mark, Craig and Bryan.
His funeral will be at Falkirk Crematorium at 10.45am on Thursday March 3.