TAXI talks with Poppy Cabs coordinator and London cab driver, Mike Hughes
It’s the day after Remembrance Sunday and Mike is deservedly due a rest... well, after he’s talked with TAXI of course!
Well done Mike on another hugely successful Poppy Cabs Service.
Mike: Thank you, it was so good to be back in the capital on Remembrance Sunday after the pandemic and to once again look upon the iconic scene of hundreds of cabs lined up on Westminster Bridge.
To start, can you give me a bit of background on Poppy Cabs?
Mike: We began offering the Poppy Cabs service in 2009, when we had just fourteen volunteer drivers on Westminster Bridge – this year there were over a hundred waiting to transport the veterans. In the early years we only assembled on Westminster Bridge but now we have taxis at Admiralty Arch too. This year we had the support of well over 300 drivers, plus members of their families and other volunteers who joined us on the day. It is a huge but very rewarding role to coordinate the Poppy Cabs taxi service and I don’t even mind that on the day before Remembrance Sunday, I was working on allocating the volunteer resources for about seven hours.
What do the volunteers experience during the day?
Mike: In my opinion it’s the best day of the year. To see the hundreds of drivers lined up on Westminster Bridge in their black taxis, doing their bit for the men and women who served this country is amazing.
We all know how difficult our trade found life during the pandemic and on a day when they could be working, the fact that so many choose to support Poppy Cabs instead is commendable and a real reflection of the type of girls and boys who make London’s cab drivers the best in the world.
Many have a lump in their throat especially when they are helping WWII veterans in their late nineties or hundreds who have made such huge efforts to come to the capital to remember.
As well as moving veterans around London, we also supported the families of young children who have lost a parent in conflicts through the charity, ‘Scotty’s Little Soldiers’.
Tell me about Scotty’s Little Soldiers, Mike?
Mike: For the first time, in addition to looking after our veterans, we also supported ninety family members who attended the parade from Scotty’s Little Soldiers. This fabulous charity is for bereaved British Forces children, and we were only too pleased to drive them and their families to and from the cenotaph. You may have seen pictures of them in the media as they all wore striking black and yellow scarves.
Tell me about the money Poppy Cabs raises?
Mike: Every year we sell Poppy Cabs pin badges and share the money we raise between the Royal British Legion and the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans. 2021 marked 100 years since the Royal British Legion was founded in 1921 so we chose a horse drawn hansom carriage as the 2021 poppy cabs badge. I have a few left if anyone would like one!
I noticed that this year, the Poppy Cabs story got some excellent media coverage?
Mike: We certainly did get some great exposure. As always you guys at TAXI and the general taxi trade media were fabulous in their support. This year, I also spoke to quite a few members of the press. I did interviews with Andrew Pierce on LBC, with Peter Cardwell on Talk Radio and with GB News. On Remembrance Sunday, ITV London Evening News filmed David Folwell, one of our volunteer cab drivers and his passengers WWII veteran Tom Schaffer and veteran John Pinkerton.
Thanks for taking the time out on a day which you truly deserve to be resting rather than being badgered by me! Congratulations Mike on organising such a wonderful service again – fantastic job!
Mike: And I would like to say a huge thank you to every one of my fellow cab drivers who have ever helped with Poppy Cabs, you truly are London’s finest. I’ll be putting out a call next summer for help next year, but if you would like to know more about what we do, please get in touch now.