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Back to the beaches

14 February 2017

Kind-hearted drivers of London’s iconic black cabs are inviting World War II heroes to travel back to the beaches of Normandy for a final time.

Today 25 Nonagenarians who are supported by the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans plus London black cabs and 12 guardsmen selected from the Welsh, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Grenadier Guards helped launch the Taxi Charity’s final trip Back to the Beaches of Northern France with war heroes from WWII. The veterans who saw active service are now in their 90s. Sadly the number who are fit and able enough to travel is declining each year and this will be the final trip, accommodating up to 150 veterans plus a family member or carer. 

The journey to Northern France will be the last of its scale organised by the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans - formerly known as The London Benevolent Association For War Disabled - as the number of veterans from the 1940 – 45 conflict who are able to make the trip diminishes.

Traditionally, the charity has supported veterans across the capital and the south east, but is keen to invite war heroes from across the UK to come together for the final trip.

Mr. Bill Skelly and Earnie Davies catching up in London.

“The trip is completely free for the veterans and a family member or carer, all they need is beer money,” said Dick Goodwin, Vice President of the Taxi Charity Committee.

"It would be brilliant if someone who hadn’t heard of the charity but is sat at home thinking they would love to join a trip like this got in touch. Maybe their children or grandchildren or a neighbour will hear about this and encourage them to join us."

“We’ll be setting off from London and we can help arrange an overnight stay so that they are refreshed for the journey the next day. Veterans can also join us at Portsmouth if they’d prefer or its closer.”

The trip will take place between 4 – 8 June 2017 and include a remembrance service at the Pegasus Bridge Museum, the opportunity to lay wreaths at the Ranville war cemetery and trips to Bayeux and the beach at Arromanches.  

“Our youngest veterans are now touching 90, so very sadly the numbers that have the stamina and level of fitness for an overseas trip is falling every year,“ added Dick.

“Last year, 64 cabbies took 98 veterans plus volunteers and paramedics to Ypres in Belgium and we’ll continue with our annual trip to Worthing, and a programme of events throughout the year but this is the last trip of this size.

“There is a great spirit of friendship on our trips and the old chaps and ladies are great fun to be with. We want to let the veterans know that we are there for them.”

The charity was voted the nation’s favourite voluntary/charity project in the 2016 National Lottery Awards. You can see a video about the charity and the award at https://www.national-lottery.co.uk/life-changing/project-nlas-london-taxis

To find out more about the charity or to donate to support the Back to the Beaches trip, visit the website http://www.taxicharity.org/

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