THREE blind men were given the chance to get behind the wheel of a classic car on Monday ... and drive at speeds of up to 70mph.
Former professional drivers Alec Glover and Mick Scadden thought they would never drive again after they were both left virtually blind.
But thanks to Tom Poole, a classic car collector who has been visually impaired for most of his life, the two former lorry drivers were able to get back behind the wheel at Waterbeach Barracks.
And it was just any car they were driving, but Mr Poole’s 1950s Alvis.
Driving unassisted but with some verbal guidance from Roger Gooding, a member of the Alvis Motor Club, the three men were determined to show that blindness can be overcome ... as well as having fun in an experience they described as “fantastic”.
The men plan to get behind the wheel again and hope to encourage other visually impaired people to do the same, opening themselves up to new experiences.
Mr Glover’s life revolved around driving before macular degeneration – a major cause of blindness in older people – left him with no straight vision and limited peripheral sight.
The 69-year-old was an HGV and van driver for 25 years. He said before he was registered blind, driving was his hobby.
“Driving was my living and it was also my hobby and I’d get in my car and drive all over the country,” he told The Hunts Post.
Mr Glover, who lives with his wife Trisha in Butts Close, Somersham, met 64-year-old Mick Scadden when the two quite literally bumped in to each other in Huntingdon High Street.
Mr Scadden, of Albermarle Road, St Ives, lost his vision almost three years ago to optic neuropathy – damage to the optic nerves which causes loss of sight.
He said: “I was supposed to meet Alec in St Ives [a meeting set by the charity Camsight] but he didn’t get the message and didn’t turn up.
“Then, some months later, I literally bumped in to him in the High Street. We started talking and we realised we were supposed to meet before.”
The coincidence led to friendship and the pair regular go out on trips together, using public transport.
However, none of these outings compared to Monday’s ride, which the men said was “the most fun we’ve had since we lost our sight”.
But it would not have been possible without Mr Poole, 80, from Landbeach. They met Mr Pool when they gave a talk to the Cambridgeshire Advanced Drivers and Riders group about ‘driving into darkness’.
Mr Poole, who collects classic cars as an investment but had never driven, offered Mr Scadden and Mr Glover the chance to use his 1950s Alvis if they were able to secure permission to use Waterbeach Barracks.
Mr Poole added: “It was brilliant. I loved it. I’m used to the car making all the right noises as a passenger but to feel it responding to your movements is really special.”