A twenty-seven-year-old businessman spread the festive cheer by donating £15,000 to the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, to pay for veterans to enjoy a Christmas lunch at Millwall Football Club.
War veterans from across London, the southeast, Suffolk and Wiltshire gathered together at The Den for the annual Taxi Charity for Military Veterans Christmas lunch.
Joining the veterans, (who had served in conflicts including WWII, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq), serving military personnel, charity supporters and volunteer London cab drivers, was 27-year-old entrepreneur Johnny Gallagher who had generously covered all the costs for the much-loved event.
Having grown up listening to stories from his grandad who had served in two wars and having been inspired by the leadership of Winston Churchill, the bravery of WWII heroes including Douglas Bader and the selflessness of those, like British nurses Mollie Evershed and Dorothy Field, who were killed trying to save dying soldiers on the beaches of Normandy, Johnny has a huge respect for the spirit of those who had lived or fought through war.
It was said that recent events, including the young girl who poured her own faeces on the Captain Moore statue, the burning of poppies on Remembrance Day and a new statistic that shows only 1 in 5 young people have a positive view of Winston Churchill, triggered Johnny to make the £15,000 donation to the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans who have worked with WWII veterans for 75 years. His donation covered the food, drinks, gifts and transport costs for the lunch for 240 guests and allows the charity some much needed breathing space in what is a very difficult time to fundraise.
Jonny Gallagher, Businessman and entrepreneur, said: “I am so disappointed and angry that my generation are seen as uncaring and ungrateful for what the men and women did for this country during WWII. By donating to this wonderful charity, I wanted to make a strong statement that not all young people have these views, I completely understand and appreciate that without the sacrifices these heroes made, me, my family and millions of others would not be alive today.”
Brian Heffernan, Chairman of the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, said: “The greatest challenge facing us as we enter our 75th year is raising funds to continue supporting our very special veterans. Every charity was affected by the fundraising restrictions during the pandemic and having come through that, we are now facing a cost-of-living crisis which will see most people having to reassess how they allocate any money they may have previously donated to good causes. To have received this incredibly generous donation from Johnny is truly wonderful and we cannot thank him enough.”
Johnny Gallagher added: “I had an amazing day with the Taxi Charity meeting men and women who gave so much during WWII and other conflicts. At lunch I sat with WWII veterans Ken Hay MBE JP who served with the 4th Battalion Dorset Regiment and was taken P.O.W during the fighting at Falaise in Normandy, Marie Scott, a Wren who transmitted messages to the beaches on D Day, Dorothea Barron, who worked in naval signals, and charity ambassador Darren Swift, who served with the Army’s Dog Unit and lost both legs to an IRA bomb in 1991.
“I took the opportunity to talk to many other veterans too ,including Don Turrell, 97, who when I asked what he thought about the problems we face today, told me that he grew up with five siblings who all shared the same bed and one sheet and that when his father returned from work, he would lay his coat over the top to give them a bit more warmth. I later asked him what the worst bit about WWII was and he replied succinctly, ‘seeing my friends shot to pieces!’ Our views were certainly aligned that too many younger people have no idea of their misplaced feelings of entitlement and privilege and should remember what those who came before sacrificed, to allow them to have what they so often take for granted.
“I can honestly say being at the lunch was an experience I will never ever forget and I will continue supporting the work of the Taxi Charity.”