After a year like no other, the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans will be delivering a little festive cheer to veterans who have missed out on so much during the pandemic.
With all the usual Taxi Charity events, including the visits to Normandy, the Netherlands and Worthing having to be cancelled, it has been a very difficult year for veterans not being able to come together to socialise and mark important anniversaries like D-Day, VE Day and VJ day.
For the last ten years, the veterans would normally gather from all over the south east for a huge party at Christmas. Last year, there were 280 guests at the Millwall football ground but this year the much-loved party cannot happen.
Instead, the Taxi Charity has been busy preparing handmade Christmas stockings containing chocolates, sweets, mints, biscuits, and brandy, to spread a little Christmas cheer.
The charity is wholly reliant on generous donations and Lynn, Community Champion at Tesco Extra in Cheshunt, has helped make the Christmas stockings 'extra' special with a donation of armfuls of chocolates, sweets, and mints.
For those veterans living in the south east, whenever possible, volunteer cabbies will deliver the stockings just before Christmas and spend a little time having a socially distanced doorstep chat.
Dick Goodwin, vice president of the Taxi Charity, said: "Tesco has once again been fantastic in supporting our efforts to spread a little festive cheer to the veterans and we hope that when we are able to meet again, Lynn will be able to join us to meet some of our veterans from this very special generation."
As well as Christmas cards from the Taxi Charity, the veterans also receive cards from families in the Netherlands and from school children who attend the St Louis Academy, Cabourg, Normandy. The hundreds of cards are collected by volunteers on the continent who forward them to the charity for onward distribution to veterans.
Loneliness and isolation increase during the winter for the elderly and the effects of the pandemic has made this even worse. For any veterans who are on their own on Christmas Day, the charity will arrange for one of the volunteers to give them a call.
Len Sheppard, 92, a post war RAF veteran and ex cab driver, said: "The Taxi Charity has been so good to us this year. It is so lovely to open the post and receive things like the newsletters, or cards and booklets commemorating D-Day, VE Day and VJ Day, as well as other important dates likes Easter and St George's Day. It makes such a huge difference to receive this regular contact from the charity and to know that there is always someone at the end of the phone if you need help or just a natter."
Dick Goodwin continued: "The Taxi Charity would like say a huge thank you to all the London licensed taxi drivers and volunteers who give up their time to support us throughout the year and to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy new year."