Chelsea Pensioner, Roy Knight, died on 16 January 2022, aged 92
Roy Knight served with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and was a popular member of the Taxi Charity family. Originally from Croydon, Roy was a London cab driver and Blue Badge guide for many years. For the last few years, Roy had been a Chelsea Pensioner, living at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Sadly, he had been ill with throat cancer for some time.
On VE Day, in 1945, Roy was a drummer and bugler in the army cadets and caught the train from East Croydon to Victoria to join the celebrations to mark the end of WWII. Proudly wearing his uniform, he listened to the crowd cheering and singing along with the popular songs of the time, including It’s A Long Way To Tipperary and My Old Man Said Follow The Van.
Roy was clearly very taken with the drum majors who were throwing their maces in the air that day and the memory made a powerful impression as years later he began making beautiful ceremonial drums which he presented to military groups.
In 2020, Roy penned these memories for the Taxi Charity:
“In the 90 odd years of my long and eventful life, I consider the years from 1984 – 2010 as the
happiest and most fruitful of my working life. Why? Because this was when I decided to take the plunge and become a London cab driver. It began in the usual way, as it does for all those who choose the same path, going up to Penton Street and signing up for The Knowledge. I was 54 years old and all the young lads who were in the same school that I had joined, the British Legion School in Brixton, used to say to me, "Why is an old guy like you doing The Knowledge?" and I would tell them, "My need is the same as yours I have a family, and a mortgage to pay." To tell the truth, I did feel a bit odd in this situation, not because of age but my lack of the knowing what I needed to know about London. In class, these lads were well ahead of me, knowing places I had never heard of: Shad Thames, Bleeding Heart Yard, Adams Row and Crown Court.
"I thought that I knew London well as I had been a service engineer and was on call in South London, but as I came to realise, The Knowledge was a different kettle of fish.
"Cutting a very long story short, I got my Green Badge in 22 months and just 11 appearances at the old Carriage Office, and I still have my Blue (pink) Book to prove it. I worked bloody hard, seven days a week, to achieve this result. My family suffered during this period, as there were no holidays, no eating out, no theatre visits and no chocolate biscuits!
"I remember hiring my first cab from the London and General which was the largest cab hire
company in the capital and my first job was from the Oval to Christies in St James, given free, as is the tradition. I was determined to do my job as tradition demanded, so joined the LTDA, and eventually became involved with Taxi Charity for Military Veterans in 1988, just two years after getting my Badge. I was highly involved with their annual trips to Worthing, and I must have done over twenty.
"In 2008, on the 60th anniversary of the trips to Worthing, I made a full size playable military drum and presented it to the Mayoress for Worthing at the Tower of London. We played into the Royal Fusiliers ceremonial HQ Room and then presented the drum to the Lady Mayor to be kept in their museum in the assembly rooms and put on display every year at the Taxi Charity’s annual visit.
"As well as having a badge for my cab work, I also have another for my guide work. Some years after getting my Green badge, I was persuaded by a friend to do the London City Guide under the auspices of the Hon Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers. This course gave me another string to my bow, allowing me to guide tourists and visitors around London to show them the various secrets which are hidden in this great city of ours." Roy Knight (EX 44336).
Dick Goodwin, vice president of the Taxi Charity, said: "I first met Roy when I jumped in his cab in 2004 before I was involved with the Taxi Charity, and we began talking about military history. He told me he was going to Monte Cassino later that year for the 60th anniversary commemorations in Italy which I was also attending, and I bumped into him again there. Later that same year, I was invited by the Taxi Charity chairman to attend their annual trip to Worthing and met Roy again, and I have had the pleasure of knowing him ever since."
Dick continued: "Before the pandemic prevented collections, Roy was one of our veteran fundraising team, who, resplendent in his ‘Scarlets’, raised money for the charity by shaking collection buckets either at Millwall FC or at commuters as they hurried through train stations across the capital. Roy and the rest of the collection team loved chatting to football fans and passengers, smiling for countless selfies and afterwards enjoying a lovely pub lunch."
"The Taxi Charity has lost another of our close-knit family of veterans, and he will be sorely missed."
Roy’s funeral will be held on 8 February at Beckenham Crematorium, Elmers End Road, Beckenham, BR3 4TD.