Veterans

The Taxi Charity Getting Veterans From Alpha To Bravo

London taxi drivers are giving former personnel a new lease of life.

A taxi charity is escorting veterans from the forces community to special, organised events - allowing them to share stories and revisit old battlegrounds.

The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans holds dozens of events every year, bringing former soldiers, sailors, and airmen to their destinations.

"They’re the best there is, they really look after us," said former machine gunner Jeffrey Hayward, who was twice awarded the Military Medal for bravery.

The charity has enabled Mr Hayward to go abroad and even visit a familiar battleground, Château Saint-Côme.

He reflected on his time in service: "Out of the 16 men in my platoon, six had been killed.

"The rest that were left, three were decorated for bravery – it was a bit hectic."

Mr Hayward and his friend, Chelsea Pensioner George Parsons, have both marked their 100th birthdays this year - and with the help of the Taxi Charity, they've had the chance to celebrate it with their fellow comrades.

Jeffrey Hayward and George Parsons were escorted to their 100th birthday celebration by the charity.

Ian Parsons, who works with the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, feels that there is a shared perspective between the veterans and their drivers: "These veterans are men from the working backgrounds who were called up to duty, and there’s always been that connection."

The charity brought the veterans together for a celebratory lunch at the Union Jack Club in London.

The special lunch also marked 74 years since VJ Day.

Stepping out of his taxi and through the venue doors, 93-year-old Richard Edser had plenty of wartime stories from his time in the Pacific with HMS Formidable, after the ship was hit by a Japanese Kamikaze plane.

"We had to do a lot of sweeping up, pushing the aircraft over the side, we never saved anything, we just ditched it," he said.