On Sunday 25 February 2018, WWII veterans and London cab drivers will return to The Bedford Arms in Fulham where the Taxi Charity was formed 70 years ago.
The celebration event, for war veterans, cab drivers and the charity’s voluntary committee will be a traditional pub party with a buffet, drinks, dancing and good cheer in the London pub where it all began.
The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, (also known as the Taxi Charity) began life at the ‘Fulham Taxi and Allied Trades Benevolent Association’ at a meeting at The Bedford Arms in Dawes Road, Fulham on 27 February 1948.
The charity was created to help the war disabled - in their homes and hospitals across London and the home counties - by providing entertainment, outings and raising money for specialist equipment to make their lives easier.
Minutes from Feb 27, 1948 cite the object of the first meeting to “discuss the possibility of giving an outing to the war disabled persons, commencing with Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton.” Later that year, the first two outings took place, one to Brighton and one to Worthing. In total, 25 taxis were used to convey 50 disabled veterans.
A Mr L W Whiteman was appointed the charity’s first chairman, the landlord of the Bedford Arms, Mr D Defries the charity’s treasurer.
Over the past 70 years, the charity’s trips and events have been honoured with many guests, including HRH Princess Alexandra, HRH Prince Philip, HRH Duchess of Kent, Sir Douglas Bader and many celebrities of TV, sport and theatre. The Taxi Charity counts Dame Vera Lynn, Joanna Lumley, Vice Admiral Sir Adrian Johns and Lady Suzie Johns as its patrons.
The Taxi Charity was voted the nation’s favourite voluntary/ charity project in the 2016 National Lottery Awards.
Today, the charity is run almost entirely by current or retired London cabbies, who provide outings, events and camaraderie to the country’s war heroes. Scores of veterans, who are in their 90s, turn-out in all weathers to fundraise for the charity through collections at tube and mainline stations across London.