Whether it’s keeping buses running for passengers, serving customers in a shop, or teaching learner drivers, it’s fair to say that Tony Poole has always been a people-oriented person.
That is what makes him a perfect member of the Veterans’ and People’s Party.
Tony wears many hats as a volunteer for VAPP, whether it’s in operations, policy, community, or communications, and does this alongside his day job as a driving instructor, running his own business – Tony Poole Driving – and, along with his partner Catherine, they help learner drivers across their hometown of Leeds.
Born and bred in Leeds, Tony has been working since leaving school at 16. He went straight into an apprenticeship with a local bus company and ended up spending 12 years there as a fitter engineer, overseeing the maintenance of the bus fleet.
He then changed career direction and, with other members of his family, bought and ran three local newsagents/off-licences. He jokes: “I was just like Arkwright, complete with the dodgy till.”
Having always enjoyed driving and having taken the newsagent business as far as he could, Tony took the plunge and set up his own driving business, something which he has been doing for the past six years.
As well as teaching learner drivers, he also provides advanced driving and fleet training. And if that’s not enough, he is also a work-based learning assessor supporting people doing courses such as customer service, business and admin and management.
He explains: “I have always been a disciple of lifelong learning personally through doing courses such as psychology, mindfulness and life coaching, but also helping others to better themselves. And I enjoy supporting my local community as a mental health first aider and working to help homeless people in Leeds.”
You can now see why Tony was made for VAPP and vice versa!
Explaining his introduction to VAPP, Tony says: “I saw a Facebook advert and this led to me having a conversation with VAPP’s secretary Wendy about the Party’s ethos and I had a good feeling about what they were trying to do. I like that VAPP is staffed by volunteers, ordinary people doing extraordinary things in their day-to-day lives, balancing work and family.
“I have always put people at the heart of everything I do and VAPP does the same, so it was a great fit for me.”
Looking forward to next year’s local elections, Tony says he is hopeful VAPP can have an impact. He explains: “We’re still a new party trying to build awareness of who we are and what we do, so it would be great to get even a few more people elected as councillors.
“I compare VAPP to my beloved Leeds United. After 16 years in the Championship we were not going to come into the Premier League and immediately rip it up, but we’re hopefully building something slowly and steadily.”
In his spare time (not that he has much!), dad-of-three Tony enjoys spending time with his family and walking every day.