Driving instructors

Southampton driving instructor, 75, retires after 48 years on the road

A SOUTHAMPTON driving instructor finally hangs up his keys after nearly half a century on the road.

During his long career Ray Watts can boast of teaching professional athletes including former Saints player Bobby Stokes and Olympic gold medalist cyclist Danielle Rowe MBE.

He first graduated as a driving instructor in late 1974, but after helping people all over town pass their tests, he decided to end a career spanning over 48 years.

Although he taught countless students, Ray never used or owned a cell phone – and ran his business using only a pager.

Customers would call his landline and his wife would send a message to his pager.

He added: “I ran a Company no phone or internet.

“It’s crazy that it worked for me.”

The 75-year-old told the Daily Echo: “I met some really nice people and enjoyed my time as an instructor.

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He is married to his wife, Christine Watts, 73, who has supported him throughout his career. “My wife thinks I should have retired ten years ago,” Ray said.

The Woolston resident used to fix wrecked cars before he started training as a driving instructor.

In 1980 he became an ensign at the British School of Motoring and served as branch manager in Southampton, Salisbury, Poole and Bitterne.

When asked what the best part of the job was, Ray said: “I love seeing people come in who’ve never done this before and pass their test.

“At the end, I shake their hands and say ‘well done’ and now ‘keep the licence, please’.

“Teaching everyone has been very rewarding.”

And what’s next for Ray after his retirement?

He said: “I will definitely miss it. But my wife is very happy because we will be spending more time together.

“I will also be decorating the house and keeping fit with the Saints Foundation.

Learning to use a cell phone is something he has added to his to-do list when he retires with the support of Solent Mind.

His last day of work will be June 29 and he plans to celebrate with his family and friends over a great meal.

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