Hello once again all you taxi troopers. Fast Eddie reporting in.
Well, here we are. The new year is upon us, so I thought it would be a good time for a round-up of the charity's 2015.
It has been a good year and the Taxi Charity has worked very hard to make it a successful year.
Early in the year, members of the committee sat down with the officials of the Royal British Legion at their HQ in Southwark to discuss where and how our two charities could work together to support our veterans. On the agenda was securing funding towards our Return of the Liberators trip to the Netherlands in May 2015. This resulted in a generous grant to our charity and helped to make the trip a great success, and more importantly financially viable. Thank you to the RBL.
We started the year with our collector’s lunch, held for the first time at the Union Jack Club in Waterloo. Over 50 persons sat down to lunch, which was a very enjoyable event. It was just a small thank you to our wonderful team of veteran collectors.
Veterans and committee members attended the Band and Bugles Concert at the King's Royal Rifles Corps Association HQ.
It was with great pleasure that we found ourselves at the North Cheam Sports & Social Club, run by one of our most ardent sponsors, Tony Millard. He laid on a wonderful lunch, followed by entertainment and dancing. YES, I DID SAY DANCING! As always with Tony, a first class show. So very well supported by the club regulars. Thank you so much for looking after our veterans so well.
May was a busy month for us. The Taxi Charity took 120 World War II veterans and their attendants, in 92 London taxis, on our Return of the Liberators trip to the Netherlands to celebrate the 70th anniversary of their liberation in May 1945. The trip went very well, but we were unlucky with the weather on the day of the big parade. This was supposed to be the highlight of the trip but the heavens opened up and we were rained off. It was very disappointing, but you cannot win them all! At our service to the fallen at Groesbeek, we were joined by the British Ambassador, Sir Geoffrey Adams. The service was a very moving experience, watching our lads thinking about their old comrades.
Also in May, we were once again working with the Royal British Legion, ferrying veterans around for photo shoots at various events for the VE celebrations. A large number of our veterans took part in the service at Westminster Abbey and the parade along Whitehall, in the presence of HRH the Prince of Wales.
In June, we held one of our regular annual events: the veterans' outing to Worthing, with 114 London taxis taking part, providing transportation to and from various points all over London, AT NO CHARGE to the charity! Well done, you wonderful cabbies.
On the way to Worthing, as usual we stopped at the village of South Holmwood, where our veterans were fed and watered in regal style by our hosts, the good people of the village at their clubhouse. Thank you once again for looking after our vets.
This year we decided to try a different venue for our get together. We went along to the promenade pier. Our change of venue was a great success, thank God! It gave the veterans, drivers and guests an opportunity to stroll along the seafront promenade and socialise with their friends. And the weather was on our side. It was a great day out, attended by our patron, Vice Admiral Sir Adrian Johns.
Another of our annual events was our golf day at the Sundridge Park course in Bromley, Kent to aid fundraising. It is organised by our honorary committee member John Rowland. A great day out was had by our taxi driving friends and supporters. There was dinner in the evening and entertainment by the comedian Richard de Courcey and Nooky bear. The event raised much needed and welcome funds to help us plan more trips for our veterans. Thank you, John.
Other events in June:
August saw the charity veterans and our taxi drivers participating in the VJ Day celebrations. The day went very well. Many of the veterans took part in the parade and enjoyed the reception in Westminster Abbey gardens afterwards. Our volunteer taxi drivers hit the press, with stories appearing in The Independent and the Evening Standard, as well as on the ITV News.
Other events in August:
In September, many of our veteran collectors met up at Buckingham Palace to raise a glass of champagne to Her Majesty the Queen, to commemorate her becoming the longest serving monarch: 63 years on the throne of England. We also used the occasion to treat our team of veteran collectors to a well deserved lunch at the Lansdowne club in Central London.
Other events in September:
Veterans attended lunch at King's Royal Rifles Corps HQ
In October, the Normandy veterans reunion took place at Duxford. Committee members Dick Goodwin and Barking Bill represented the charity, together with our veterans, who enjoyed a reunion with old pals. After lunch, the veterans were entertained by a singer who gave renditions of all the wartime favourites.
Other events in October:
The Launch of the Poppy Appeal
In November, a lot of events took place in very many locations:
On 5 November, there was a ceremony at the Field of Remembrance, Westminster. Our veterans and committee attended. Present were HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, together with HRH Prince Harry, representing the Queen. Both of the Princes found time to stop and speak to our veterans, making it a proud moment for them.
November 8th was Remembrance Sunday. Many of our veterans were marching on the parade past the Cenotaph in Central London, with their own regiments/ units. It was a proud day for our veterans and the charity. Various services and parades were held in many locations, and I feel sure all of our vets one way or another were paying their respects on this special day.
When we were collecting donations recently in London, one of our star collectors, Bill Parr, was approached by a lady who was kind enough to extend an invitation to our veterans to visit the school where she works as an administrator. The idea was that our vets could talk to the pupils about their experiences in World War II.
We decided to accept the invitation and on 11 November, some of our veterans visited the Saint John Beaumont School in Windsor. Two of our regular collectors, Richard Forrester and James Corrigan, spent time with the pupils, answering their questions. A lovely lunch was provided and the veterans had an all round good day.
Before leaving, a further invitation was extended to the charity to repeat the visit in 2016! You have got to hand it to Bill Parr, he gets on so well with the public on our collections, especially the ladies. He really can charm the birds out of the trees, even at 84 years of age. Well done, Billy!
Other events in November:
Opening of Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey
Commemorative Airborne Service at the St Lawrence Jewry Church
Veterans attended The Glider Pilots Association annual lunch at the Union Jack Club
December 3rd was our annual Taxi Charity Christmas lunch at Millwall FC who is one of our sponsors. From 11:30am at main line stations, members of the committee had positioned themselves at the taxi ranks of London Bridge, Victoria and Waterloo stations, to meet incoming veterans from all over greater London and beyond.
From London Bridge, the Millwall double decker bus collected veterans and guests and ferried them to the executive suite at Millwall FC. Those travelling on the bus enjoyed a tot of brandy to warm them up.
By 1:15pm, we were all together enjoying a pre-lunch drink. There were over two hundred veterans, guests and sponsors sitting down to a splendid lunch, each person had a small Christmas stocking containing goodies and a little Christmas cheer (liquid). Following lunch, we had our monster raffle. Well there’s no such thing as a free lunch is there?!?
Everyone generously gave and joined in the spirit of giving. We raised a very welcome sum which helped to offset our costs. Following the raffle, we were entertained by local school children singing Christmas carols.
Our patron, Vice Admiral Sir Adrian Johns attended and gave a speech thanking everybody, and wishing the charity every success in the future.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Millwall FC management and their superb staff for all they do for us. A great day out for all concerned.
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