On Sunday 14th November 2010, the London Taxi trade joined together in a great show of unity to show why we are the ‘Best in the World’ when we came to the rescue of the war veterans who were stranded by the tube closures that would have prevented them from attending the Remembrance Day Memorial Service at The Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall.
Transport for London in their wisdom had planned maintenance work on the Jubilee line that weekend, and even after much pressure from the media still refused to reschedule.
This just shows the utter contempt that TfL have for the very people who fought and gave their lives so that there is a ‘London’ for these incompetents to try and destroy.
Did they even bother to look at the calender when they planned these works?
UCG Media Officer Jonathon Myers, incensed on hearing this decision on a London radio show, immediately called the radio station and offered the services of the United Cabbies Group.
After only 1 week of organisation, the United Cabbies Group had swung into action, and with the help of our friends and colleagues at The London Taxi Drivers Forum, Tweetalondoncab, The Anderson Shelter and Legalledoff.com we were able to come to the rescue of the war veterans who had been so badly let down.
At 8am on Sunday morning UCG marshalls were in attendance at Waterloo Station, The Union Jack Club and The Victory Ex-Services Club to organise a free shuttle service to The Cenotaph for the veterans.
And then the Taxis arrived… One by one they started appearing and they didn’t stop until every war veteran had been whisked away to The Cenotaph.
It was absolutely fantastic to see so many proud Taxi drivers who were willing to give up their time to help the people who served this country in the wars, and the overwhelming feeling of gratitude was something special.
Well done to you all, we are proud to call you our friends and colleagues!
The veterans were very grateful for the service we provided and couldn’t thank us enough. TfL hadn’t even bothered to put out signs in Waterloo Station telling them that the underground was closed, and it was only after they had climbed the many stairs and escalators did they realise that they would have to climb them all again to get back out.
What a way to treat people in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s!
As soon as our marshalls realised this we were in the station pointing them towards the free Taxi service. There were some great characters amongst them and it was very humbling to hear their stories.
This gentleman is 96 years old, and had joined the Navy in 1939. He told us his ship had been bombed and sunk and he was very lucky to survive. He was going to HMS Belfast for the service, and after a quick chat and a photo he was on his way. We salute you sir!
There were servicemen and women from all regiments including these three Ghurkas who were delighted with the free service. It was the least we could do for these gentlemen.
We covered over 50 journeys from Waterloo Station alone, with a similar number from both The Union Jack Club and The Victory Ex-Services Club, and we made sure that every war vet, their helpers and their families arrived to their destination on time.
Taxis are the only vehicles in London that are 100% wheelchair accessible and we covered every job that other forms of transport simply wouldn’t have been able to cope with.
I wonder if TfL have thought about what they will do when the London Taxi trade is gone?
The media were present to cover this story and it was a great chance for the Taxi trade to get some positive PR for a change. ITV’s London Tonight made this the main story in their news bulletin, and our spokespersons did a fine job in portraying Taxi drivers as they really are – kind, honest, hardworking and upstanding assets to this great city of ours.
ITV’s London Tonight News at 5.45pm
By 10.30am all the war vets were safely at their chosen destinations and it was time to prepare for phase two of the operation – The return journey.
The cabbies made their way to Westminster Bridge where the police had provided us with a special waiting area, free from prosecution by Westminster Council wardens and their draconian parking enforcement regulations.
The police were absolutely superb on the day and we would like to thank them for their co-operation in assisting us, with special thanks to PC O’Donnell.
It also gave us a good opportunity to have a chat with them, which we rarely get the chance to do these days, and it was refreshing to know that they still want us, even if the authorities don’t.
At 11am Big Ben chimed, and the sound of cannonfire marked the start of the two minutes silence which everybody observed impeccably as we paid our respects to those who gave their lives so that we could enjoy the freedom we have today.
Shortly after, the barriers were lifted and the police allowed us to move over the bridge and line up and wait for the rest of the service to finish, so we could begin the return journeys.
There were so many Taxis in attendance that we spanned the whole length of Westminster Bridge and beyond with drivers only too happy to give up their time for such a worthy cause.
The weather on the day was pretty atrocious, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of anyone, and very soon the war vets started appearing in great numbers.
We made sure each and every one of them was taken to their destinations a quickly as possible with drivers returning time and time again for more.
And before you could say ‘Boris Johnson’ the job was done!
Just as the last Taxi was pulling away, one of the Dial-a-ride buses that Peter Hendy boss of Transport for London had promised would take care of everything arrived, only to find his services were no longer needed.
Oh well, better late than never I suppose!
London is a fantastic city with a Taxi service to match, and it is very sad to see what the people in authority are doing to it.
Like the war vets in the blitz, the Taxi trade has superb strength, and we will not let this mob destroy us, try as they might. Not while the United Cabbies Group are around, of that you can be sure!
All in all, this was a fantastic day for London, the war vets and the ‘World’s finest Taxi trade’ with every single one of us delighted and honoured to help out, and we look forward to doing the same again next year.
Special thanks must go to Mike Hughes and Givati who were both instrumental in the organisation and deployment of this operation, and to all the marshalls who worked tirelessly to make sure that this was a complete success. We salute you all!
It does leave one question though…
Peter Hendy boss of TfL, how do you sleep at night?