What would Mary Poppins say? Nannies learn self-defence and stunt driving… to protect babies from kindnappers

May 7, 2013 | by | 0 Comments

Trainees at Britain’s most prestigious nanny school are learning self-defence and stunt driving – to protect against robbers and KIDNAPPERS.

Norland College in Bath, Somerset, has been training professional nannies for the rich and famous since 1892.

But, to meet the needs of modern wealthy parents, the college has now added getaway driving and martial arts to the curriculum in order to protect babies in their care.

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Caroline Hymas practices her self defence skills at Norland College in Bath.

Instructor Andy Tombling leads the self defence class for  trainee nannies

Instructor Andy Tombling leads the self defence class for trainee nannies

Students now undergo rigorous stunt and evasive techniques to enable them to drive at high speed in any weather conditions and escape the potential grip of attackers.

Abby Harris, 19, said the new modules are essential to her training as future clients are likely to be a potential target for crooks.

“It’s a really crucial part of training, she said. “You have to be prepared for things and if we have high-profile charges in our care then we need to know how to protect them.

“Self-defence is really important because the charges you never know who could be out there.

“It was definitely not something I expected to do before I came to Norland, but it was amazing, so much fun.”

Lucy Draper gets behind the wheel on a skidpad course in Bath, Somerset, to practice stunt driving

Lucy Draper gets behind the wheel on a skidpad course in Bath, Somerset, to practice stunt driving

Fiona Searle gets behind the wheel with other nannies in back

Fiona Searle gets behind the wheel with other nannies in back

Fellow classmate Lucy Draper, 24, added: “It teaches you how to look after your charges so if you have them in the back in dangerous situation you know how to cope.

“It teaches you things like how to get away from the paparazzi or if you’re being chased as well as if you are on black ice or something like that.

“I definitely feel a lot better and more prepared now.”

Norland nannies are known as the crème de la crème of the childcare world and are firm favourites of royals, celebrities and the super-rich.

But their Mary Poppins-style brown uniforms, felt hats and white gloves makes them instantly recognisable and prime targets for potential attackers.

The trainees – who pay #36,000 for the four-year BA Honours degree course – are taught everyday skills such as first aid, sewing, fitting car seats and cooking.

As well as housekeeping skills, the college now prepares the girls for the 21st Century version of childcare – by taking its second-year students to Castle Combe Racing Circuit in Wiltshire, for driving lessons with a difference.

The class teaches students how to deal with icy roads and how to safely get away from anyone trying to get to the children in their care.

Driving instructor John Yeo, who normally trains body guards, said the nannies course was “tough and realistic”.

He said: “We put them under as much pressure as we can.

“If we’re putting all the pressure on them and they can still pull the car out of a situation quickly and efficiently, it’s been a good reward.

“And we know when they go out there and that happens they’ve got the best chance possible of keeping safe.”

They also undergo Tae Kwon-Do self-defence training where they learn to manoeuvre prams away from kidnappers and give themselves the best chance at escaping or alerting attention.

Claire Burges, lecturer and former graduate of Norland College, believes the college’s founder, Emily Ward, would have loved the new additions to the prospectus.

She said: “When Emily Ward set up Norland, it was forward thinking it was always thinking about what was needed for the children in the families that the nannies were going to be caring for.

“And I think she’d love the idea that we’re now moving it even more forward.”

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