Mary Reid passed away in Forth Valley Royal Hospital yesterday morning, less than 24 hours after being admitted.
For 18 years she and husband Brian ran Reid’s Driver Training helping fledgling drivers gain enough confidence, skill and knowledge to pass their test and hit the open road.
The Carronshore couple launched the business in 2004 and since then built it up to be the biggest independent driving instructor firm in the area.
At the peak they had nine other instructors working with them and, although a couple left during the pandemic, there are now eight instructors and one other in training, to help the learner drivers of all ages hoping to gain the skills needed behind the wheel.
Brian said: “Mary loved her job and the people she taught loved her.
"She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about eight months ago and until November it didn’t affect her too much. However, she only gave up teaching three weeks ago when she was no longer physically able to go on.
"We were both supposed to be semi-retired but now, sadly, we won’t be able to enjoy it together.”
He told how only hours before her death, a member of the hospital nursing staff told him that his partner was the last successful learner driver Mary had taught, passing her test three weeks earlier.
Born in Camelon, was one of six children – sisters Marion, Helen, Patricia and Ann, who has sadly died, and brother Peter, who also died a number of years ago.
She had many jobs including a seamstress in the Camelon Wrangler factory, a bus cleaner, a car valeter with Square Deal Motors, Union Chemicals and it was while she was a delivery driver with Lucas in Bankside she met Brian 38 years ago. The couple have been married for 36 years.
Working at electronics firm Exabyte in Larbert saw Mary given the opportunity to go to America for three months. She discovered a forte for helping people to pick up driving skills as her colleagues struggled to get to grips with the hire cars they were using.
Brian said: “Someone said that she should become an instructor and, a short time later when Exabyte announced it was closing, that’s what we both decided to do.”
The couple trained for 18 months before launching their own company. One of the first things they did was run a competition with The Falkirk Herald to offer ten free lessons to one lucky winner, but they also gave one free lesson to all those entering.
Their first student, Sharon Ure, was among hundreds of people expressing sadness at Mary’s passing as news spread.
Tributes included “leaves a big hole in our community”, “a wonderful instructor” and one former student said: “Mary was my instructor a number of years ago and I still hear her voice when I’m driving today.”
Mary is survived by husband Brian, her three sisters and three stepsons, Mark, Craig and Bryan.
Her funeral will take place at Falkirk Crematorium at 10.45am on Thursday, March 3.