London cabbie Ron, loves a uniform – and may well be responsible for England’s poor performances in recent major football competitions...
Hi Ron, tell us a bit about yourself?
I live in Dunstable and have been a cabbie for thirteen years. Before that, I had quite a few careers and spent years changing one work uniform for another!
How many uniforms are we talking here?
I joined the 5th Royal Enniskillen Dragoon Guards when I was eighteen and spent three years in Germany working on tanks. I had always wanted to join the military; my brother had served with The Royal Green Jackets and despite him being injured in Northern Ireland when he took a brick to the face, I still wanted to sign up.
Being in the military was great fun, although I did miss home. I made some great friends, learned some valuable skills and life lessons but the only German I learnt was how to order a few beers.
After I came out of the military, I did a training course on vehicle maintenance and repair and then got to wear my second uniform when I joined the AA as a patrol man. Five years later I got uniform number three when I joined the Met Police. I was a PC for five years and was promoted to Custody Sergeant for a further four years.
I then moved to Mallorca with the family, and we ran a bar and restaurant on the beach for thirteen years; it was really hard work but incredible fun and the only uniform I needed was shorts and a t-shirt!
When we returned to the UK, the next uniform was that of a London Bus Driver and then uniform number five was when I worked for Ambulance Service Patient Transport and my Police driving experience was put to good use driving surgeons on blue lights from Harefield to hospitals across the South, to harvest organs for transplants.
This driving role was three days on, three days off, which gave me the time I needed to complete The Knowledge and I have been a London cabbie ever since.
I understand that you had a very special passenger in your cab in early June
I volunteer for the Taxi Charity and took nonagenarian WWII veteran Doug Baldwin and his son Mark, from his home in Dunstable to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to watch the live link of the opening of the British Normandy Memorial on the 77th anniversary of D-Day.
We should have been at the opening in Normandy, but Coronavirus prevented that! So instead, Doug and forty other veterans had a fabulous weekend staying at The Hilton, East Midlands, courtesy of the charity. On the Saturday they enjoyed a steam train picnic on The Battlefield Line, then on the Sunday we drove the veterans to the Arboretum.
The wet weather at the Arboretum didn’t dampen the atmosphere one bit as the assembled veterans watched the live link, from a very sunny Ver-sur-Mer in Normandy, the location of the impressive new memorial to all those who didn’t come home. The Memorial in Normandy is situated high above Gold Beach, and it was a privilege to be with so many WWII veterans who had participated in Operation Overlord and see it officially opened.
Doug served with the 6th Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers and went into Normandy after D-Day when reinforcements were needed. He was captured at Estre and taken Prisoner of War until the war ended. During the service, Doug was presented with the Legion d’Honneur, the highest French order of merit. Like all these heroes, he plays down his part and it was a pleasure to see him recognised in this way.
Always humble about his part in the second world war Doug said to me, “We lost so many during this conflict and the real heroes who deserve this medal are those that didn’t come back and are buried in graves in Normandy or at the bottom of the Channel.”
Who else has been in your cab and what are all the footy jibes I’m hearing about?
Like all cabbies I have had lots of celebrities and sports stars in the cab, but I am a little concerned that I might be responsible for England’s lacklustre performances in major football tournaments. During the 2010 World Cup, I took the then England Manager, Fabio Capello home and wished the team luck – and look what happened.
Then, during the 2016 Euros, England Manager, Roy Hodgson flagged me, and I took him home. Once again, I wished him and the team the best of luck and again, we didn’t bring home the silverware.
So, just in case I jinx them, should Gareth Southgate attempt to get in my cab, I think it might be best if I ask him to jump in the cab behind!