Keeping Jack Bellis' legacy alive

Warrington Guardian: Geoff Kelly and Andy Evans after he passed the Skill For Life Course Geoff Kelly and Andy Evans after he passed the Skill For Life Course

A CLOSE family friend of Padgate teenager Jack Bellis says a fund to help bikers learn advanced skills is ‘keeping his legacy alive’ after the first person passed.

Tony Rich, aged 43, of Hereford Close, Woolston, set up the scheme to help bikers complete the ‘Skill For Life’ course in memory of the 19-year-old motorcyclist, who died following a collision in Runcorn last year.

Earlier this month Andy Evans, aged 19, from Leigh, became the first person awarded a grant from the fund to pass.

Mr Rich said: “It’s very satisfying for the first person to pass as it’s keeping the legacy of Jack alive for his family.

“The course won’t guarantee that you will stay safe, but it might just save your life.”

Mr Evans, who has been riding since the age of 16, said: “I did it to become a more advanced rider.

“It teaches you the right lines to take, because the wrong line in the wrong conditions can cause you to crash.

“I’ve already recommended it to all my friends.”

The initiative has seen Mr Rich donate £3,500 to charity Warrington Advanced Motorists, after he completed fundraisers like the Greater Manchester Marathon.

It offers the course, aimed at improving the awareness and skills of bikers, and accredited by the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

Anyone interested can get half of the £140 fee paid for through the Jack Bellis fund.

Mr Rich wants more people to use the subsidy.

He said: “We don’t pay for the whole course as if people are putting in some of their own money, they have more of an incentive to finish it.

“We don’t want to pay money and have people quit halfway through.

“There is a lot of money there now, and we could do with more people taking up the offer.”

Grappenhall 56-year-old Geoff Kelly, a senior observer with WAM for 20 years, is encouraging other bikers to advance their skills.

He said: “The course will get you prepared for the obstacles, barriers and hazards you will face on the road.

“We encourage doing things faster, at speeds you will be travelling on the road, and look for dangers.

“This is another level of awareness - on a driving test you just get told how to handle a bike.”

This is how the Skill For Life Course works

Participants are assessed by an experienced, trained observer to see how they ride They complete six, two hour drives with an observer.

If more drives are needed, training will continue An advanced test with a qualified examiner is then carried out.

If you pass, you get membership with the Institute of Advanced Motorists for a year.

To sign up call Gordon Blackshaw from WAM bike section on 860967.

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