SENIOR fire station officers travelled halfway around the world to Leigh for specialist driving lessons.

Liang Ka-po and Yuen Tik-hang, from the Hong Kong Fire Service, are undergoing a five-week driving instructor course at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s operational training and development academy in St Helens Road, Leigh.

On March 1 they will return to Hong Kong and put their training into practice as fire service driving instructors and examiners.

Liang, 40, said: “The training course is very systematic and comprehensive and everyone we have met has been very friendly – from the firefighters to the cooks.

“We can choose between driver training in Australia and Greater Manchester and the course here is much more intensive and has a high quality of trainers.”

Yuen, aged 45, said: “The instructors are very experienced and they take us through the course slowly because English isn’t our first language.

“Everyone has made us feel very welcome.”

Driver trainer Phil Jenkinson, from Tyldesley, said: “Because Hong Kong used to be a colony of the British Empire, the road traffic legislation is very similar so it helps the officers to work with instructors who understand the systems.

“One of the hardest things about the course is that it is very dynamic and changing all the time and these officers are doing it in a second language, which makes it even tougher. We have some stock English messages which we use and I’m learning a few Cantonese phrases too.

“It is a fantastic opportunity to develop our cultural views, build friendships and demonstrate the professionalism and dedication of our driver training team.”