On 29th October, the Taxi Charity celebrated its 75th anniversary with a party for cab drivers, veterans and supporters at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
TAXI spoke to Taxi Charity Chairman Brian Hefferan about the landmark event.
Hi Brian, tell us about the big party.
Brian: It was a fabulous night celebrating our 75th anniversary, with a gathering in the magnificent Great Hall at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Our honorary Secretary, Dick Goodwin, planned the event and what a fabulous job he did to make it such a huge success!
Who else joined you?
Brian: We invited our drivers, Chelsea Pensioners, veterans and many of our volunteers, supporters and donors. The charity could not do what it does without the support of all
these people – or friends as they have become – and we wanted to throw an event to thank them for their continued support.
Tell us a bit about the history of how the charity was formed.
Brian: Back in 1948, a small group of London cab drivers got together to see how they could support friends who had returned from the war and the Taxi Charity was born, although it had a different name back then. They were primarily helping those who had been injured and it was called The London Taxi Benevolent Association For War Disabled – I think they made the right decision to change the name in 2016 to the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans.
To think the charity has been supporting veterans for 75 years, through volunteering and donations with no government support, is a wonderful achievement. To put this into context, we were formed in the same year as the NHS, which is also marking their 75th anniversary alongside us.
We hear the entertainment was pretty special!
Brian: It was! First on the stage was Shaun Chambers who sang for us. He has performed at our events before and it was great to see him joined on stage by a D-Day veteran, 99-year-old Bill Gladden, who loves to sing songs from the period. Then to get people on the dance floor we introduced a band called The Choice. The band’s saxophonist is London cab driver Jon Cox, one of our volunteers, so we couldn’t think of a better group to join us. The guests were quick to get to the floor and it was great to see people of all ages throwing shapes up there.
Rumour has it you showcased your new taxi?
Brian: As our guests arrived there was a show-stopping, almost life-sized balloon replica of a London black cab. We were in total awe of the guys from Luxury Bows who created the taxi and also dressed the room with balloon displays, one of which I believe was taken to the room of one of the Chelsea Pensioners as a memento of the evening. Not too sure where my new balloon taxi is now, hopefully it’s not been clamped. While it had a hire light and number plate, I don’t think there was a meter!