After notching up 50 years of teaching learner drivers Eric Dale, who founded Daleway School of Motoring with his father Jack in November 1959, has decided to hand the steering wheel over to his son Andrew Dale.
Daleway was Co. Armagh’s first professional driving school and Eric has taught thousands of people from Craigavon and surrounding areas during the past fifty years. When the DOE introduced their professional qualification Eric became one of the first to become an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) in Northern Ireland. Since then the industry has morphed and fluxed like any other with exponential growth in the numbers using the roads since the 1960s, amendments to motoring laws and unquenchable thirst for increased speed and ever more powerful vehicles – changes which Daleway has witnessed and navigated. “I believe the most important aspect of our business and the secret to our longevity is the quality of or instructors”, says Eric.
In 1973 Eric married Serena Maxwell who had spent several years with the Civil Service. From this, Serena learned the skills of dealing with all kinds of people and she put these to good use in training to be an ADI! Apart from teaching Learner drivers, she progressed into the field of training instructors to pass the difficult exams needed to become an ADI. One thing she taught the ADIs was that they must practice the Daleway standards of sound instruction.
Understanding Your Client
“My wife Serena and I have always trained instructors to the highest standard, giving them the ability to adapt to the individual needs of each client. We have always been forthright in our ethos and continue to believe that as driving instructors we are not only teaching the skills necessary to pass the driving test but, and most importantly, our profession teaches people to use the road safely for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t matter if there are ten cars on the road or 110, teach people properly and they can use the road safely and with confidence. All our instructors understand that, and I believe that is why Daleway is now teaching our third and fourth generation of some families.”
A Growing Trend
The growing trend for instructors to win business in an increasingly flooded market by discounting the price per lesson. “It worries me,” says Eric. “Sadly the industry in this area is being destroyed and I would urge people to ask themselves why their instructor is working for so little. I believe, just as my father did, that a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay, no matter what job or profession you are in. In driving instruction, the ultimate loser will be the learner and Daleway has already borne witness to this fact. We get many people who have tried the cheaper option in the hope of big savings and they find they have just wasted their money as there has been no structure to their training and a less than professional approach to instruction, which serves no one at the end of the day. We never undervalue our commitment to our learners, making them confident and safe drivers for the rest of their motoring lives. The number of people who have come to us like this is a worrying feature.”
Looking back, Mrs Lester was our outstanding receptionist who took exceptional care of Daleway pupils, even offering them a welcome cup of tea to steady the nerves before embarking on the test. She was a great mother figure to all. Recently retired after 25 years of service was Mr. Jimmy Ferguson, a lot of people are thankful to Jimmy for guiding them through the test and we still get people asking for him today. Mr. Raymond Johnston, an ex Northern Bank manager really enjoys the job of teaching learners and he still gets a great thrill from watching pupils progress and pass their test. He continues to have great success.
Golden Jubilee Offers
With the weight of fifty years of experience behind them, Daleway are now looking to the future as Andrew takes over, allowing Eric his much deserved and often postponed retirement. To celebrate and say thank-you to the community which has supported us for so long, Daleway is inviting prospective clients to telephone them or log on to the website to find out about their golden jubilee offers. “Serena and I are delighted to be passing the business on to Andrew,” says Eric. “We are thrilled not only at this personal success as a driving instructor, but also that he is willing and more than able to carry the Daleway name forward for another fifty years!”
Left to right: – Jennifer Hanna Gwynne, Serena Dale, Eric Dale, Andrew Dale, Andrea Hanna. Andrea is currently learning with Andrew 33 years after her mother Jennifer passed with Eric. Andrea said “After being with four other driving instructors in the past I was so pleased to have found Andrew who is encouraging and informative, I learned more in an hour and a half with him than I did with all the others.”