Over one hundred kind-hearted London cabbies are switching off the meter to transport war veterans on a seaside trip to Worthing (on Tuesday 16 June.)
The 114 London black cab drivers will collect 228 veterans and their carers from all over London before setting off to South Holmwood Village, near Dorking where the vets will congregate for homemade sandwiches, cakes and refreshments.
The cabbies will then continue in convoy for the 30-mile journey along the A24 to Worthing.
Veterans, including those from the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, will be treated to a hero’s lunch at The Pavillion on Worthing Pier and entertainment by the Polka Dots vintage harmony group. They will be joined by two of the charity’s patrons, Vice Admiral Sir Adrian Johns and Lady Suzie Johns and guest of honour, the Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis, MP.
The London Benevolent Association For War Disabled, known as the ‘Taxi Charity’ has been organising trips to Worthing on the South Coast since 1947. The charity counts among its patrons Dame Vera Lynn and Joanna Lumley who were guests of honour at the annual Worthing trips in 1985 and 2009 respectively.
Drivers are given a £30 cheque donation towards the cost of diesel for the trip. The charity has found that the majority of cabbies do not cash their cheque.
Veteran Bill Parr who served with the Black Watch in Korea said: “We love coming on these outings with the cabbies, they are a wonderful bunch who look after us so well and treat us like royalty. Nothing is too much trouble for them and the friendships between us last way past the outings.”
Graham Pike, one of the drivers taking part and committee member of the Taxi Charity said: “It’s great being with the veterans and supporting the charity where we are able. There is such a great spirit of friendship and the old boys and girls are just great fun to be with. It takes the stress out of driving a cab around all day.”
Vice President of the Taxi Charity Committee, Dick Goodwin added: “Our charity offers support, friendship and outings to veterans from all conflicts and services. The veterans can be as involved as they wish and are able. For example, our wonderful group of Veteran Collectors, who turn out for us on numerous occasions in all weathers, has now formed into a lunch club where they meet up outside of our collections and attend lunches and functions in their own groups.
“One of our main priorities is to let the veterans know we are there for them should they live alone and need our help.
“Only licenced London taxi drivers can drive for the Taxi Charity. Any veteran can assist us by becoming one of our collectors and we try to hold as many public events as possible to get the charity noticed and in the public eye.”
Veterans take an active part throughout the year by collecting donations around London. A recent trip to Holland by 80 London taxi drivers with 120 veterans for VE Day to remember the Liberation of Arnhem in 1945 was funded by veterans' own fundraising at Tube stations, plus donations from the National Lottery and the Royal British Legion.
Early start. Veterans collected from their homes.
From 8:30 onwards: Meet at Village Hall in South Holmwood Village in Surrey for homemade sandwiches, cakes, refreshments and entertainment.
11:30 Depart for Worthing in a convoy.
12:30 - 13:00 Arrive in Worthing and allow veterans to stretch legs before lunch
14:00 Lunch in The Pavilion on Worthing Pier, followed by speeches
16:00 Entertainment from the Polka Dots
18:00 Depart - some head back to South Holmwood Village for more food and dancing; others will head straight home.