Driving Memories is owned by Alec Gies.
Alec has been a professional driver for most of his life and his experience has influenced how he developed Driving Memories to be different from other driving schools.
He started his career, straight out of school, at the Kennings Car Mart servicing centre in Upper Montagu Street in Marylebone, central London. As an apprentice mechanic, Alec worked on the Rolls Royce and Bentley cars sold by Kennings at their nearby showroom in Berkeley Square.
Learning to Drive
Alec was one of four or five apprentice mechanics who needed to gain their driving licence, in order to take the serviced cars out on the road. Lessons were arranged with the company driving school.
“I remember learning to drive very well,” says Alec. “My instructor was Mr. Brown, and he had an Austin Allegro that was a ‘Harvest Gold’ colour – remember this was the 70s! Everybody remembers the strange square steering wheel on the Allegro!
“Mr. Brown was a character. He would bring his smelly dog with him on the driving lessons, and the dog would sit under his legs in the passenger footwell. Mr. Brown would frequently fall asleep during the lessons, and I’d have to give him a gentle nudge to wake him up and ask him which direction he wanted me to go next.
“Even with a snoozy instructor, I passed my driving test at the age of 18,” says Alec.
“Times were different back then,” he says. “Today, you would never have a driving instructor who fell asleep during the lessons. I can promise my pupils that it will never happen to them!”
Development of the New Bentley
After qualifying as a mechanic, Alec moved to the Rolls Royce plant in Harlesden, working on car servicing, but also as a test driver working on the development of the new Bentley Mulsanne Turbo.
“Although underneath it was a Bentley Mulsanne Turbo, it had the bodywork of a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow II,” says Alec. “That way, it wouldn’t attract attention when I was test driving it around London or on the motorways.”
Later, Alec moved over to the famous Rolls Royce factory in Crewe, where he continued his work as a test driver.
Subsequently, he went to work for HR Owen in London, test driving both Ferrari and Rolls Royce motor cars.
Private Hire & Chauffeur Driving
For a number of years, Alec worked in the executive private hire industry, owning and driving a variety of luxury cars and stretched limousines to deliver celebrities, politicians, judges, diplomats and world leaders to social and State functions.
For example, Alec was the personal driver for over a year for the famous actor and film director, Sir Richard Attenborough.
Becoming a Driving Instructor
As the industry evolved, Alec decided to put his years of experience to good use by teaching others how drive well – and deliver an experience for his pupils that they will enjoy and remember fondly.
“I enjoy working as a driving instructor teaching new pupils how to drive safely and proficiently,” says Alec. “It always provides a fresh challenge!”
“What makes Driving Memories different from other driving schools in the Borehamwood area is that we don’t just say, ‘You’ll learn how to drive,'” explained Alec. “I really want pupils to enjoy their time learning to drive – it’s a one-time experience. I remember when I learned to drive, all those years ago, and it’s played a huge part in my life since.
“I want every pupil to have fond memories of learning to drive. So we make sure they get souvenirs when they pass! We are the only driving school that does that.”
As a resident of Borehamwood with his wife and three children, Alec’s Driving Memories car can regularly be seen on the local streets and neighbouring towns like Shenley, King’s Langley, Potters Bar and St. Albans.
But please don’t wave if you see his car – you might distract his pupil!