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Derek's Blog: The Taxi Charity's 67th veterans' outing to Worthing

The Taxi Charity's Assistant Secretary and Press Officer, Derek Leone, shares his thoughts about this year's veterans' outing to Worthing.

On Tuesday 16 June 2015, The London Taxi Benevolent Association for War Disabled held its 67th outing to Worthing. From around 8:30am, with the sun beginning to shine, the first of the 112 taxis began arriving in the village of South Holmwood. In the village hall, the residents of the village had been busy preparing food, and with arrival of more taxis and veterans, the hall soon became very busy.

At 11:00am, the veterans made their way to the taxis to begin the journey down the A24 to Worthing.

This year we went to a different location - The Pavilion - which is located on the pier.

The taxis all parked on the promenade. Once inside, with everybody seated, the Master of Ceremonies, Mr Melvyn Zeff, called for a one minute silence in remembrance of those no longer with us.

He then introduced the Mayor, Councillor Michael Donin and his Consul Miss Linda Williams. The Mayor then welcomed everybody to Worthing and hoped that they had an enjoyable day.

Mr George Parsons then said grace. The Master of Ceremonies then announced the Chairman of the Taxi Charity, Gary Belsey, who thanked Dr Julian Lewis MP and Mrs Fiona Lewis, and our patrons Vice Admiral Sir Adrian Johns and Lady Susie Johns.

Our President, Harry Joel, was not able to be with us and was represented by his daughter, Leigh Smith, and son-in-law, David Smith.

Gary thanked the staff of The Pavilion and our collectors who go out in all weathers to collect money for the charity.

Gary said that the veterans that are with us are living history and in the future you will only be able to learn what they did and went through from books and films. He said we should make the most of the time we have with them and thanked them for our freedom and liberties and said that those who made the ultimate sacrifice, will always be remembered.

He then thanked Audrey Sherry for the donation for fuel for the drivers which is gratefully accepted and he thanked John Sheen for his support over the years and wished him a happy retirement and said that he hoped he will continue to come on the trip as a veteran.

The Secretary of the Taxi Charity, Paul Davis, read messages from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, who sent their regards to the charity and wished everybody an enjoyable day.

The Master of Ceremonies then announced the guest of Honour, Dr Julian Lewis MP, who made a short speech which was enjoyed by everybody.

The Master of Ceremonies then announced Mrs Leigh Smith, the daughter of our President Mr Harry Joel, MBE, who made a speech and told everyone that her father was disappointed at not being able to attend this year's outing.

It was then time for lunch which was fish and chips followed by strawberries and cream and tea and coffee.

Immediately following lunch we were entertained by The Polka Dots - three ladies dressed in military uniforms who sang some well known songs. This was followed by a raffle, with The Polka Dots resuming singing afterwards.

All too soon it was time for everybody to make their way home. Some of the veterans continued to enjoy the day by returning to South Holmwood for more food and drink, while others headed straight home to their beds.

And so ended the 67th Taxi Charity outing to Worthing.

The President, Chairman Officers and Committee of charity wish to thank all our sponsors who every year advertise in our diary. Also the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, Mary Holt and Lauren Kennedy who helped the charity with insurance on the recent trip to Holland, Jane Exford of Worthing Council and the ladies of South Holmwood.

A big thanks to all the London taxi drivers. Without you offering your services, we would not be able to have these outings.

Thank you to Johnny Rowlands, John Stubbs and the medical team for all their work on the trips and the Royal British Legion outriders who escorted us to Worthing.


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