London cabbies pass up their pay to give war veterans a trip to the seaside

Over 200 war veterans will enjoy a day out at the beach as part of the Taxi Charity's annual Worthing Outing

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of veterans will be able to enjoy a day on the prom next week as thoughtful London taxi drivers give up a day’s pay to take them to the seaside.

The considerate cabbies will take over 200 veterans and their carers to Worthing on Tuesday for waterfront fun, food and entertainment.

This year the annual excursion, which has taken place every year since 1948, will see 114 taxi drivers give up their day to take part in the Taxi Charity Worthing Outing.

The group will first make their way to South Holmwood Village, Surrey for homemade sandwiches, tea and cakes, before setting off in a convoy to Worthing.

On their arrival at the seaside town the veterans will be welcomed to a lunch on the pier, speeches from the Mayor of Worthing and special entertainment from vintage-style close harmony trio the Polka Dot Dolls. 

Joining the outing, along with Taxi Charity patrons Vice Admiral Sir Adrian Johns and Lady Suzie Johns will be Dr Julian Lewis, Conservative MP for New Forest East.

Bill Parr, a veteran who served with the Black Watch in Korea told the Evening Standard: “We love coming on these outings with the cabbies. They're a wonderful bunch who look after us so well and treat us like royalty. Nothing is too much trouble for them and the friendships between us last way past the outings.“

Graham Pike, a black cab driver, said: ”It's great being with the veterans and supporting the charity. There's such a great spirit of friendship and the old boys and girls are just great fun to be with. It takes the stress out of driving a cab around all day.“

The London Taxi Benevolent Association For War Disabled, colloquially known as the Taxi Charity, boats patrons such as Dame Vera Lynn and Joanna Lumley and was formed in Fulham in 1947.

After WW2 it aimed to assist the war disabled throughout London and the Home Counties by offering fun outings, entertainment and providing specialised equipment for those wounded in battle.

Taxi Charity’s website says: “Our aim now is simple: to work for the benefit, comfort and enjoyment of the war disabled and veterans, to the best of our ability.”

The organisation’s annual Worthing outing now collects veterans from across London, including the Royal Hospital Chelsea and other Veterans' Homes.

Taxi Charity fund the daytrips through donations and are reliant on London taxi drivers to provide their taxis and time for free. Although the taxi drivers are given a cheque of £30 towards the cost of the trip the charity says that most drivers do not to cash them.

Taxi Charity say: “We are proud to that those aims that were started back in 1948 are still alive to this present day and will continue as long as people within the taxi trade are willing to give their time and energy to help those who have given so much for their country.”

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