On October 6th, Canary Wharf will see a convoy of over 100 black cabs stretching off into the distance, as the iconic London taxis make their way onto Dover. Their passengers for this trip are not everyday passengers – this is a very special occasion that is organised once a year, every year since 1994. This year sees the Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers organise the 24th Children’s Magical Taxi Tour, where over 200 children suffering from a range of chronic debilitating illnesses and life limiting conditions will head off on their 3 day adventure to Disneyland, Paris®. Accompanied by City of London Police escorts, Gendarmerie Nationale, London Ambulance NHS Trust vehicles and AA breakdown trucks, the amazing convoy can be over 3 miles long when running. Putting numbers aside though, this trip is about more than the impressive figures on fuel consumption over the years (55,000 gallons!), miles of unpaid driving (nearly 15,000!) and support vehicles provided (200) – it is about the wonderful life experience that this charity event brings for the many children attending. (That’s nearly 4,800 children to date, in 2,400 black taxis.) You can see more information on the Children’s Magical Taxi Tour here, and read Danielle’s story, one of the children that attended the trip. It tells of the magical joy that the trip brings to the children, and what it did for her. At Disneyland, the children get to experience the fantasy world of their favourite Disney characters, getting to meet them at their Gala Dinner, and experiencing the places in the films come to life around them.
For many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime journey, and gives a break to the thoughts and treatments of their illnesses. The sheer amount of organisation and hard work that so many people put into this event year on year is also something quite magical, with every aspect of the trip organised by unpaid volunteers. This is a huge amount of effort – orchestrating fund raising, donations, black cabs and their drivers, health care, safety, accommodation, fuel, food, provisions – the list goes on.
We are very proud to play a small part in this year’s tour, by sponsoring two taxis. Sales Manager Daniel Severin will also be accompanying the convoy, driving a family on this year’s trip. A couple of members from Plan Insurance Brokers will also be attending the ‘Big Breakfast’, held for the children and helpers before the great fleet departs to catch a ferry at Dover.
We are hoping that this year’s trip will be another year to attract a great deal of media coverage, both in France and in the UK. It is unfortunate that some of the many charity events that licensed black taxi drivers organise throughout the year do not get the media coverage that they deserve. Working with veterans for trips and events both in the UK and abroad are just a few of the things that are organised – offering free taxi services from all mainline stations for veterans going to and from November’s Remembrance Day service every year, annual seaside trips to Hastings and Herne Bay for mentally handicapped children organised by the Albany Taxi Charity Fund, taxi convoys taking veterans to Worthing, Arnhem, transporting veterans on VJ day by the London Taxi Benevolent Association for War Disabled, and the list of charities go on.
Hopefully we shall see some more media coverage of these in the following years, highlighting and helping the campaigns for the iconic London cabs. As they move through their troubles with current taxi apps and their regulation issues (such as Uber, and others) we feel that the spotlight for the black cabs campaigns could be these wonderful, charitable causes that they work so hard for, every year – keeping the voice of the iconic trade positive.