Taxi drivers once again showed their true spirit by giving veterans a well-deserved seaside treat – as well as a trip down Memory Lane.
The popular visits have been taking place for 75 years and are a highlight for those who have served our country.
They are also testament to the kind-hearted taxi drivers who volunteer their time to treat our veterans, giving up a day’s pay when they still have bills to coming in.
The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans recently took former forces personnel to enjoy a day on the West Sussex coast, stopping off at the little village of South Holmwood for a refreshment stop and a buffet prepared by residents.
The convoy then made its way to Worthing where the party enjoyed fish and chips.
In a tradition stretching back to 1948, veterans have been treated to a day at the coast for a fish and chip lunch.
As well as travelling in comfort in 50 London black cabs, the VIP passengers also had a trip down Memory Lane with vintage taxis.
They were met by the Worthing and Adur Town Crier Bob Smytherman and escorted into the Pavilion Theatre on the seafront.
Veterans, cab drivers and invited guests were welcomed by the Mayor of Worthing, Cllr Jon Roser, and then enjoyed fish and chips followed by ice cream.
After lunch, 102-year-old Flt Lt (Retd) Colin Bell DFC, who served in the Second World War as a Mosquito Bomber pilot and completed more than 50 missions, shared stories from his life.
Events such as this are a fantastic way for veterans to reunite and to pay tribute to those who did not make it back.
After speeches from the Taxi Charity Chairman, Brian Heffernan and the Taxi Charity Patron, Vice-Admiral Sir Adrian Johns, guests were entertained by rock band The Accents, who much to the delight of the older veterans, had learnt some popular songs from the 1940s.
London cab driver and Taxi Charity chairman Mr Heffernan said: “Every year we receive the most wonderful welcome from the residents of South Holmwood and Worthing. As well as veterans from the Second World War, we were joined by younger veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Falklands who are also eligible for our support.
“This day is a very popular event and it couldn’t happen without the generosity of the London cab drivers who give up a day’s pay to volunteer their time to pick up veterans from London and the Home Counties.
“This is a very important year for the charity as we celebrate our 75th anniversary, but we do have concerns that with the country still feeling the effects of Covid and the cost-of-living crisis, donations and grants are at significantly lower levels and we are devastated that there is a real chance that we may have to cancel some of our future trips.”
The Taxi Charity is run by volunteer London black taxi drivers and has been supporting thousands of veterans since 1948. It is the only forces charity that focuses on providing fun and entertainment and arranges free trips for veterans from all conflicts to the Netherlands and France, for acts of commemoration and days out to museums, concerts, or social events across the UK.
In recognition of the outstanding volunteers and work it does, the charity received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2021 – the equivalent of the MBE for charities.
To fund and facilitate their work, the charity is reliant on donations, grants and sponsorship and launched a ‘75 for 75’ fundraising campaign to raise £75,000 in its anniversary year.
To donate to the Taxi Charity or to find out more about how they support for veterans, visit, www.taxicharity.org