In 1992, then–17-year-old Christian Whiteley-Mason took his first driving test, and like many first-time test takers, he failed.
Undeterred, Whiteley-Mason kept trying. It only took him 25 years to finally pass his driver’s exam and become a legal driver in Great Britain.
Over the years, Whiteley-Mason—a care home manager—took the driving exam 33 times.
“There was this one examiner at the Barnsley test centre who I used to pray I didn’t get,” Whiteley-Mason told the Mirror. “She was notoriously tough and she failed me every time.”
It wasn’t like he wasn’t trying to learn; Whiteley-Mason spent thousands of pounds on his exams and on more than a dozen driving instructors.
“I had 56 lessons with my first instructor,” explained the now newly minted legal driver. “Eventually he told me to just give up as I would never pass.”
For a time, the care home manager did give up. Whiteley-Mason didn’t even attempt an exam for more than a decade between 2003 and 2016.
Eventually, though, as Whiteley-Mason’s job responsibilities increased, so did his need to get around. He was spending lots of money on taxis or hoping that he could mooch rides from others. “It was costing me a fortune,” he told the Mirror.
So, when he turned 40, Whiteley-Mason started preparing to take his driver’s exam once again—as they say, the 33rd time’s a charm.
In the time since Whitely-Mason first tried to pass the exam, the requirements for becoming licensed in Britain have become much more rigorous. “There’s a lot more to it now than when I first started,” he explained to the Mirror.
Now, in addition to a written theory test and an in-person driving test, there’s a hazard perception test. Whiteley-Mason wasn’t going to let another obstacle stand in his way, though.
He was determined to pass his exams. He took more lessons and ignored the quips of his husband, Darren, who told him, “You’re an accident waiting to happen.”
There were times over the past two years when Whiteley-Mason got bored with his lessons, but he doubled down on his studying and practice this January.
Finally, in March, Whiteley-Mason—who is celebrating his 10th wedding anniversary this year—had another reason to celebrate. He passed his exams with only three minor mistakes on the tests.
He had some help this time; his backup plan worked. “There must be a God because I prayed every night that I wouldn’t get that same examiner who’d kept failing me, and I didn’t.”
Now Whiteley-Mason drives a cute little used Smart Car he’s named Percy.
Christian Whiteley-Mason must be a Journey fan because, as he told the Mirror, his motto was always “Don’t stop believing.”