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London taxi drivers honour veterans with D-Day commemorative journey


Image credit: Taxi Charity

Ten Normandy veterans, alongside two from WWII, five from the post-war era, and two from Afghanistan, were driven by volunteer taxi drivers to the D-Day commemorations.


On 4 June, a convoy of London’s iconic black cabs embarked on the poignant mission to France. These veterans were accompanied by a dedicated team of carers, companions, and medics for a deeply meaningful five-day itinerary.

The trip, organised by the Taxi Charity, included visits to significant historical sites such as the Pegasus Museum and the Ranville Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery. The veterans also paid their respects in the village of Grangues and explored the Grand Bunker and the Abbey aux Dames de Caen. Each location offered a sombre reminder of the sacrifices made and the enduring legacy of those who served.


The Taxi Charity, founded in 1948, is unique in its mission to bring joy and entertainment to veterans. Run entirely by volunteer London black taxi drivers, the charity provides free trips for veterans from all conflicts to destinations in the Netherlands and France, as well as social events and museum visits across the UK. This grassroots initiative has touched the lives of thousands, ensuring that the contributions of veterans are honoured in a personal and heartfelt manner.


In 2021, the Taxi Charity received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, recognising its significant impact and dedication. The charity marked its 75th anniversary in 2023, celebrating its long-standing commitment to veterans.

The trip was led by London cab driver and Taxi Charity Chairman Colin Mills. He said: “What an honour to lead this group of veterans and volunteers as we came together to remember the events of 80 years ago. With us were veterans who had landed on the beaches, protected the channel, taught signalling to the troops and transmitted messages to the beaches, who enjoyed applause and thanks everywhere they went. We are proud to support veterans from all conflicts and joining the Normandy Veterans were those who had served after WWII in Korea and Kenya as well as younger vets who had served in Afghanistan.”

 

London Cab driver Daren Parr, who has rowed the Atlantic and climbed Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the Taxi Charity, said: “This was my first European trip with the charity and is something I will never forget, creating memories I will cherish forever. It was a real privilege being around these living legends. Getting to sit, talk and hear their stories was a real treat. I was hanging onto every word, asking questions and getting a unique insight into a big part of our history.”

 

WWII veteran Marie Scott, who transmitted messages to the beaches said: “What an amazing experience. I am fortunate to have travelled to Normandy on several occasions and always thoroughly enjoy my time away with this special charity but this really was the best time ever. The Charity has given me so many incredible experiences over the years, but on 5 June this year, I had the honour of speaking at the commemoration service at Pegasus Museum in front of fellow veterans from England Canada and America, as well as  personnel representing all the services.”


Entrepreneur and Taxi Charity Ambassador, 29 year old Johnny Gallagher who recently raised £135,000 for the charity to take veterans to Europe for acts of commemoration, said: “I am shocked to learn that less than half the youth of today know what D-day is. I am truly hoping that my actions will inspire change to the education system so that more young people can learn and understand the sacrifice these veterans made for our country.”

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