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Iraq and Afghanistan veteran to fundraise for the Taxi Charity, TAXI

TAXI spoke to veteran Ben Mead, who served with REME, about raising money for the Taxi Charity trip to Normandy ahead of the 80th D-Day anniversary.

Hi Ben, great to meet you, how did you get involved with the Taxi Charity?

Ben: I’m an injured veteran who volunteers with another military charity called Waterloo Uncovered. It was through them that I got involved here. The Taxi Charity has been a huge supporter of Waterloo Uncovered and has helped to take veterans to Belgium for the archaeological digs we carry out on the Waterloo battlefield.

Who did you serve with and which conflicts were you involved in?

Ben: When I joined the army, I originally joined The Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME). Later in my career I would transfer to The Royal Corps of Signals (RCS), where I was posted all over the world. Throughout my military career I have undertaken operational tours of the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Kosovo), Iraq and Afghanistan.

You've visited Normandy with the charity. What's it like?

Ben: I have been really lucky to visit Normandy a couple of times with the charity, where I have been fortunate to meet D-Day veterans. On the trips there is the opportunity to spend time with these men and women who served during WWII, and not only share our war stories but build close friendships with them. Just being able to stand on Sword Beach or at the Cafe Gondrée (next to Pegasus Bridge) with these D-Day veterans, is truly priceless and a great honour.

Can you tell us what you have planned for your D-Day challenge?

Ben: To commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day on the 6th June 2024, a team of four London-based drivers, and two modern day veterans, will be retracing the steps taken by No. 3 Commando from Sword Beach to the famous Cafe Gondrée, (commonly known as Pegasus Café). Each individual will be responsible for carrying a specific weight to simulate the ammunition and equipment, just as the commandos did 80 years ago. It costs around £2,000 to take one WWII Veteran back to Normandy, and our aim is to raise as much money as possible, in order to support and give the D-Day veterans a trip that will be remembered forever.

Which cab drivers are joining you and who is the other modern day veteran?

Ben: Joining me for the early start on 6th June will be London cab drivers, Paul Cook, Tony Neal, Danny Shelton and Seb Philp, who all volunteer for the Taxi Charity. Walking with us will be Afghanistan and Iraq veteran Chris Longford, who lives near me in Eastbourne. Chris joined the trip to Normandy last summer and was so moved that he was the first to volunteer for this fundraiser.

I understand you'll be in authentic costume and have a special gift for Madame Arlette at Café Gondrée?

Ben: We will all be wearing WWII battle dress and webbing, with our faces blacked out just as the commandoes did 80 years ago. The French children who saw the commandos on D-Day were scared by their blacked out faces, so the soldiers shared their chocolate. Those who had arrived in Normandy in gliders shared their boiled sweets that they'd been given to stop their ears popping. A friend will be making replica chocolate from the WWII army rations and we will be presenting Madame Arlette with this gift when we arrive there.

How can our readers support you?

Ben: We have posters about the fundraiser that could be displayed in cab shelters or in cabs themselves. There is a sponsorship pack to share with businesses or you can order a limited edition D-Day 80 badge.


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