Hello again my taxi troopers, Fast Eddie reporting in with a round-up of what has been happening recently. Please forgive my intermittent reports of late, but I have been on the sick list following a tummy operation. I'm glad to say I am back on parade once more.
VJ Day Celebrations - 15 August 2015
Let's kick off with the VJ day celebrations on 15 August 2015. As you hopefully will have seen on the website, in the newspapers and on the tv, everything went off very well. Our committee officers Dick Goodwin, Terry Ward and Dennis Hayes worked together tirelessly to organise the transportation needs for hundreds of veterans arriving into Central London railway stations on the day and getting them to their various destinations.
Special thanks to Dennis Hayes who worked very hard organising the knowledge boys (ie potential taxi drivers in training) to give assistance to the vets at the stations.
And another very special thank you to all the London Taxi drivers who gave their time, at NO CHARGE, to ferry the veterans around during the day. Well done, everyone!
Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest reigning British monarch - 9 September 2015
On 9 September 2015, some 30 veterans - mainly our collecting team - together with three of the committee - Dick Goodwin, Barking Bill and yours truly - gathered at Buckingham Palace to crack open a couple of bottles of champagne. The occasion was to toast HM the Queen on reaching and exceeding the longest reign by an English monarch - 63 years - breaking the record set by Queen Victoria.
We raised our glasses, sang the National Anthem (and a few other favourites) whilst the general public and many tourists took photographs and engaged our veterans in conversations. It was a really enjoyable event and even Channel 4 News came along to see what was going on... (Fast forward to 2m50s if you want to get straight to our veterans!)
Following this, we made our way to the Lansdowne Club in Mayfair where we held a celebratory lunch to mark the occasion for our wonderful collectors. Everyone enjoyed a good lunch and a couple of drinks, followed by a group singsong, the likes of which the Lansdowne Club had not heard before! It was a really enjoyable occasion for our veterans.
This was just a small thank you by the committee for our collectors, who work so hard on behalf of the charity, gathering funds for our many events and endeavours. And many thanks to our gallant band of taxi drivers - without them we could not function as a charity.
North Cheam Sports & Social Club - 11 September 2015
A number of our veterans, Chelsea pensioners and others, together with two of the committee, Dave Hempstead and I, were invited to attend a social event at the North Cheam Sports & Social Club. The occasion was the 25th wedding anniversary of Tony Millard, one of the Taxi Charity's main sponsors.
The veterans enjoyed our host’s hospitality, tucking into basins of jellied eels and lots of other gastronomic treats; all washed down with a few drinks. There was a great evening’s entertainment with music and dancing.
The committee presented Tony and Sue with a bouquet of flowers to mark the occasion and to show our appreciation of their continued support for our veterans and the charity.
The Kings Royal Rifles Annual Lunch - 12 September 2015
Another group of our veterans were invited to the magnificent headquarters of The Kings Royal Rifles in Davis Street, Mayfair, to attend their annual lunch.
Vice chairman, Dave Hempstead, and veteran, Richard Forrester, both have direct connections to the regiment. We all enjoyed a very nice lunch and had a chance to meet up with old friends and comrades.
Greater London District Royal British Legion Annual Parade - 13 September 2015
The Taxi Charity was invited to participate in the Greater London District Royal British Legion annual parade. This took place in Richmond on Sunday 13 September 2015. Dave Hempstead and I represented the charity, together with half a dozen Chelsea pensioners and many other veterans from our charity.
We assembled at Old Deer Park and marched through Richmond Town to St Mary Magdalene Church. The marching music was provided by the Surbiton Youth Marching Band, and very good they were! There followed a lovely church service, then the parade marched back to 144 Squadron Air Cadets HQ in Deer Park.
The Chelsea Pensioners marching in their resplendent scarlet top coats and our veterans with their medals shining in the afternoon sunlight made you feel proud to be British.
Back at Deer Park we were served light refreshments before we broke up to make our way homeward.
Market Garden Remembrance Service, Arnhem, Holland - 18 to 21 September 2015
Taxi Charity Vice President, Dick Goodwin, has been very busy. Apart from attending all our collections, along with Barking Bill, Graham Pike and my good self, he has also been over to Arnhem in Holland recently.
He was representing the charity at the annual remembrance service for Market Garden - the parachute regiment battle that took place in 1944.
The main service on Friday Evening, with a march across the bridge at Arnhem, was unfortunately dogged by very heavy rainfall and the parachute drop on Fingle Heath was delayed by fog - but it did eventually take place.
Various services took place at this time, for the many different units involved in the battle, including the Glider Pilots Regiment.
No doubt as some of you will remember, earlier this year one of our veterans, Sid Blackmore, passed away. During the battle of Arnhem, Sid fought on the bridge with the Parachute Regiment. His ashes have been taken back to Arnhem and scattered alongside his fallen comrades. Rest in peace, Sid.
Whilst Dick was in the area, he did some research and groundwork for a possible veterans trip there next year. There appears to be a potential problem getting hotel accommodation for the dates we need. Evidently some travel companies have mass booked many of the hotels. We shall keep you informed as more information becomes available.
In the meantime our team of veteran collectors have not been idle. Since restarting our collections following our annual trip to Worthing, we have undertaken a further seven collections: Waterloo, St John’s Wood, Blackfriars (x 3), King's Cross and Heathrow Airport.
The lads have collected the magnificent total so far of £22,421. Well done, lads!
The most recent collection at Heathrow was organised and carried out by committee officer Aaron Capell. He did this all on his own, spending 15 hours on duty at the airport, and collected £1414. Well done, Aaron. Sorry I could not be there to help you but as you know I was collecting elsewhere.
Well, that is about all for now. Look after yourselves, and remember, be careful out there. God bless.