The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans has been supporting ex-servicemen and women since 1948, but it wasn’t until 2016 – when the charity won the National Lottery’s Best Charity Award – that we really began getting noticed.
The £3,000 was, of course, a fantastic help, however, the real prize was the associated publicity, which raised our profile and introduced us to a wider audience.
2019 was the busiest and most varied year in the Taxi Charity’s history. A year punctuated by historic and landmark anniversaries.
In May, we escorted WWII veterans to the Netherlands to participate in the annual Dutch Liberation celebrations. Later that month, we took RAF veterans to Berlin to mark 70 years since the end of the Berlin Airlift.
For our week-long visit to Normandy in June, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, we transported 35 WWII veterans in a 32-cab convoy, with carers, medics, mechanics, guests and donors.
In July, we joined forces with the charity Waterloo Uncovered, who each year organise archaeological digs around the site of the 1815 Battle of Waterloo – an activity that has helped British veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in their recovery from PTSD and other battle-related injuries.
We returned to the Netherlands in September with Operation ‘Market Garden’ veterans to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem.
We also arranged several UK trips, including a three-day visit to Portsmouth, a day trip to Hever Castle, and our 71st annual day trip to Worthing.
We organise lunches to celebrate special occasions as we understand the importance of arranging social events for our veterans, many of whom live alone and are isolated.
None of this would be possible without the generosity of London’s famous Black Cab drivers, who volunteer their time and vehicles free of charge.
Back in 1948, 25 cabs took 50 disabled war veterans to Worthing. As rationing and post-war shortages came to an end, the numbers gradually increased and for decades between 100 and 150 taxis have been involved.
However, our cabbies are much more than chauffeurs. The veterans rapidly build a relationship with their drivers who in many cases also act as carers.
Under their own volition many drivers arrange small outings, help with hospital appointments and carry out other services for the veterans with whom they have built a close relationship over the years.
We receive funds from various organisations and grants from military charities. However, our main source of income is raised by our veteran collectors.
With medals gleaming, they have become a familiar sight at London’s mainline and Underground stations. So, if you’re passing by and can spare a few moments, do say hello, they’d love to meet you.