Claire Zazzara is London’s shortest cabbie and volunteers for both the London Taxi Drivers’ Charity for Children and The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans.
Here at TAXI, we like to feature the incredible trade charities, the individuals they support and the fantastic volunteers that make it all happen. We also feel it's very important that nobody gets overlooked...
Please introduce yourself?
Claire : My name is Claire Zazzara (and yes, I have to spell my name every single time someone asks me), I’m 48, and I have been a cabbie for eight years.
So let’s start with just how short you are?
Claire : For years I was very proud to be 4ft 10” but my boyfriend recently double checked my height and actually I am only 4ft 9”. To put this into context, I can stand up inside my TXE and with a hoody on I could probably still get mistaken for a small child.
What are the advantages and disadvantage of being 4ft 9”?
Claire : Well one of the advantages of being short is that with size 2 feet I can buy trainers from the childrens’ selection. It means I don’t have to pay VAT and they are much cheaper than adult trainers, but it also means that I have probably never worn a pair of trainers with the correct level of support for an adult. As for disadvantages, although I am just tall enough (thank goodness) to meet the height restrictions to go on the big rides at theme parks, my lack of inches prevents me from driving a Go Kart – I probably couldn’t reach the pedals! I was also once turned down for a job because of my height but I won’t name any names!
Have you ever used your height to your advantage?
Claire : When my son was eight, we visited Disney and every day we went to watch the parade, but we couldn’t get anywhere near the front and neither of us could see a thing. My son was so disappointed so on the final night I decided that after coming all this way, my boy wasn’t going to go home without seeing his favourite Disney characters in the spectacular
procession. "Follow my lead" I said to him, and we both pushed our way to the front. As we moved in front of one woman who had previously had an unrestricted view she began to complain, so with my baseball cap pulled down and with a slightly higher pitched voice I said, “My Mum told us to stand and wait here for her so that my brother and I don’t get lost". And turning to my son I said, ‘Didn’t she George?’ to which he replied, ‘She did Claire.’ And with that short, no pun intended, exchange we enjoyed every moment of the parade.
How has the pandemic been for you?
Claire : Like all cabbies it has been a huge struggle. I have been very fortunate and secured a regular school drop off and pick up for a young boy and a family have regularly used me to take their daughters and their friends shopping or on days out, so I feel that I am one of the lucky ones.
I understand volunteering is very important to you.
Claire : I love volunteering, and I volunteer for two amazing charities: The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans and The London Taxi Drivers' Charity for Children. I have been volunteering for the Taxi Charity since 2017 and I have been on trips to take groups of veterans to Portsmouth, Arnhem, Worthing, and this June I was one of the 40 volunteers who took a group of amazing veterans to the D-Day Commemorations at the National Memorial Arboretum. Hopefully, next year we will be able to take these wonderful veterans back to France and the Netherlands. I am on the committee of The London Taxi Drivers' Charity for Children and look after their social media. I am really keen to get more involved with event planning and fundraising now that pandemic restrictions are being lifted. I love taking the children on the annual trip to Southend and I have won the best dressed taxi two years running, once with a jubilee theme and then the following year I dressed the cab as a Mr Whippy Ice Cream Van. I would have loved a hat trick of wins, but now that I’m on the Committee I can’t enter the next competition!
Would you recommend volunteering?
Claire : Without hesitation – any cabbie who is interested should give it a go – you’ll never look back and you’ll probably regret not volunteering sooner.