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Taxi Charity feature in January issue of The People's Friend

Taxi Charity feature in The People's Friend

These occasions are so special to the veterans Dick Goodwin explains to Yvonne McKenzie why the Taxi Charity’s work is so worthwhile. When the London Taxi Benevolent Association For War Disabled – otherwise known as the Taxi Charity – recently won the National Lottery Award for Best Voluntary Charity, no-one was more delighted than the numerous volunteers. Formed in Fulham in 1948, the object of the charity is to help war disabled throughout London and the home counties. Their aim, they say, is simple – to work for the benefit, comfort and enjoyment of the war disabled and veterans. Today the charity is as strong as ever, helping bring veterans together for events and trips, relying on the London licensed taxi drivers to provide their cabs and time for free. Vice-president of the charity Dick Goodwin first began helping out over a decade ago. “I’ve been with the charity for about ten years now, but I’m not one of the many taxi drivers who volunteer,” Dick explains. “I first became involved through my photography as I used to take pictures of the veterans at their many events. After a couple of years I was asked to go on to the committee. I now help to organise the various trips for the veterans. “I’d say I’ve been pretty much full-time for the last six years. It’s just so busy. In August 2010 we decided to go to the Netherlands and since then we’ve been back three times. “Last year we went to the Menin Gate war memorial in Ypres, and we’ve had countless other smaller outings where we organise entertainment and lunches on a regular basis. “The next big trip is back to the beaches of Normandy, which is planned for June, for the anniversary of the D-Day landings, and we hope to take one hundred and fifty World War II vets in ninety London cabs. “It means a lot to the veterans. “We take people from all over the UK. It’s free, so allows people to go that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it. We pay everything, including the group insurance. “It’s comforting for them, too, as they are picked up from their door, often along with a family member, and everything they do is in a taxi so they don’t have to walk anywhere. “The cab drivers nine times out of ten become their friends. “We raise funds with veterans collecting at the likes of railway stations, and people are happy to donate as they see the veterans standing with their medals on and want to give. “We came up with the idea of selling bookmarks and each one has a veteran’s picture on it. It makes it more personal. “The charity is run by volunteers with no premises to pay for, so the money raised is for the trips. Since 2011 our collectors must have raised around £300,000 to £350,000. We also get a lot of support from the likes of Millwall football club. “As for cab drivers volunteering, we have taxi drivers coming out of our ears! They fight to get on the trips as they want to be there with the lads. We have between one hundred and forty and one hundred and sixty we can call on. “We’ll need ninety for the upcoming Normandy trip, but we also do an annual day out to Worthing, which is on July the fourth, and we’ll probably need around one hundred and thirty cab drivers for that. “It’s a team effort and these occasions are so special to the vets. It means so much for them to share it with their mates. You just see their faces light up. That’s what makes it so worthwhile.”


An Enduring Love One couple who are supported by the Taxi Charity are George and Sylvia Parsons, both war veterans. They met on a blind date, got engaged during World War II and have recently celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary. George took part in the Normandy landings and Sylvia was a Land Girl. George and Sylvia both enjoy the regular outings put on by the charity, with recent events including a trip to Nottingham and a tea dance. “The volunteers are so good and everything is well organised,” George says. “We really appreciate what the taxi drivers do and there’s always someone there to help out.”

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