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AN ITALIAN CABBIE DRIVES FROM FLORENCE TO CHINGFORD TO JOIN THE LONDON TAXIDRIVERS' FUND FOR UNDERPRIVILEGED CHILDREN'S LEGENDARY ANNUAL OUTING TO SOUTHEND ON SEA ON 13th JULY 2016

Taxis ready for the off

 

An Italian lady taxi driver travelled 1,000 miles to join the LTFUC’s 100 strong taxi convoy taking over 300 very deserving children to Southend-on-Sea.  Caterina Bellandi, 51, (known as Zia Caterina), drove her cab from Florence to Sainsbury’s (Low Hall) Chingford, to especially join the other taxis on this wonderful annual outing.  Caterina has dedicated her life back in Italy to driving children with cancer and their families to hospitals in her colourful decorated taxi and this year made the wishes of an 8 year old bone cancer sufferer from Florence come true by bringing her to London.  She started her charitable journey for love of her taxi driving husband Stefano after he died and passed on his Milano 25 cab to her.  Well done to Caterina for making this long trip and joining us.

 

Zia Caterina

Zia Caterina & her taxi

 

We would like to extend grateful thanks to the Management and Staff at Sainsbury’s (Low Hall), Chingford for allowing us to use their car park and also for providing the breakfast and bottles of water and we thank their staff who came along as helpers.

We also extend grateful thanks to Clown Jolly Jack and the Furry Tail Folk for entertaining the children and are also extremely grateful to Timeout Parties of Barnet for bringing along so many wonderful character mascots, who the children adored.  We also thank the Worshipful Company of Tin Plate Workers for coming along and for giving up their valuable time to see us off.

 

Timeout Parties Mascots

Children with the wonderful characters from Timeout Parties 

 

At 10am the balloon decorated taxi convoy set off with horns blaring.  Unfortunately we were unable to have a Police Escort this year, but are deeply grateful to PS Tony How Larkswood and the Valley Safer Neighbourhood team for their help and assistance with the convoy.  We also thank Kavanagh Motors and the Red Cross, Location Medical Services for joining us and also Ears Communications for the loan of their radios.

We were lucky that after the previous day’s bad weather, we had a warm and dry day and arrived at Southend at noon, with many people waving to us as the convoy paraded along the sea front.  The children were greeted at the Cliffs Pavilion by Clown Jolly Jack, Crazy Colin (balloonist) and the Furry Tail Folks (dogs) with the sounds of ‘who let the dogs out?’ blaring away, much to the children’s delight, thank you Rob Faulkner, Andy Wood, Richard Jeffers and Tom Kegan  After a hastily consumed lunch and a welcome from the Fund’s Hon. Chairman, Sim Yiannikaris, the children and drivers were ferried down to Adventure Island for a fun filled afternoon.  We thank Lesley Davey and the staff at the Cliffs Pavilion for their help and assistance.  We also extend grateful thanks to Brian Houssart, MBE, Hon. President of the Southend Taxi Charity Fund for Children for their support in supplying the transport.  We also thank Southend Council for the use of the Shorefield Road Car Park.

 

Outside the Cliffs Pavilion

Arriving at the Cliffs Pavilion

 

As I walked round Adventure Island, it was great seeing all our children enjoying the rides and the ice creams, donuts, candy floss and drinks which the carers and drivers had been given vouchers for.  Everywhere I looked I could see happy smiling faces and hear screams of delight, which was what the day was all about.  At 4.30pm the tired and weary drivers (oh yes and the children) returned to the Cliffs Pavilion for tea and a disco.  We were pleased to welcome the Worshipful the Mayor of Southend-on-Sea, Judith McMahon and thank her for giving up her valuable time to be with us.

 

 

Enjoying their ice creams

These ice creams are yummy

 

It was now time for the presentations, which were made by the Mayor and the fund’s Hon. Chairman.   First prize for the best dressed taxi went to Claire Zazzara, Cab No. 24 (with helper Cathy Beaney of SBT) and she received the Terry Stapleton Rose Bowl, plus a full engine service and MOT, or £150 cash, and we thank Stanway Engineering Ltd, Chingford, for sponsoring this prize.  Second prize for the next best dressed taxi went to James Poole, Cab No. 39, who was dressed in a Union Jack Suit and he received a Shield.  Next up on stage was Andy Smith and his crew from Sainsbury’s and they were formally thanked for their help and their final donation totalling £2,300.

 

 

Winning Taxi

The best dressed taxi (Driver - Claire Zazzara, with helper Cathy Beaney of SBT)

 

After the presentations, it was time for the children to show us oldies the latest moves on the dance floor, with some drivers attempting to copy them and failing miserably!  We thank Dave Davies and his team for the brilliant disco and also the Furry Tail Folk for once again leading the dancing.  Many children were outside in the foyer having their faces painted and we are deeply grateful once again to Jacqueline Walsh of ‘A Wacky Jackei’ and give thanks to Caroline Porter, Kat Sinclair and Fran Heaver the three other painters for working tirelessly.   We also thank Crazy Colin (Colin Jones) for his hard work in doing the balloons for the children.  All good things must come to an end, and at 6pm it was time to go!  Every child was handed a stick of Southend rock courtesy of Paul Van Looy and we thank him once again for this kind donation.  Thank you once again to the anonymous donor who covered the costs of the diesel for all the drivers.

 

 

2nd prize winner

2nd best dressed taxi winner

 

The Hon. President, Hon. Chairman and Committee would like to thank most sincerely all the Sponsors, Drivers and Helpers for making this outing possible, as without you these outings could not take place.  We know it has been a difficult year all round for everyone, so we do value the drivers giving up a day’s work to put some fun into these children’s lives.  I know the children would want to thank you all for giving them a day they will always remember.  Our motto is – “None Walks so Tall as he who Stoops to help a Child’.  Well done to the Committee for another great outing and also a big thank you to the Committee wives and partners for their valuable input.

 

 

A thank you from the children

 

 

It was great receiving this email from one of our drivers, Clive Kilmartin.  “Home safe after a wonderful day out in Southend with the London Taxidrivers’ Fund for Underprivileged children.  I feel very grateful, humbled and privileged to be able to be a part of these priceless days out.  To see these special kids really enjoying themselves is beautiful and puts many of life’s situations and challenges in their proper perspective for me. In other words, it makes all my perceived problems pale into insignificance, compared to the challenges which these children and their parents/carers have to face on a daily basis.  You all have my Total Respect.  I also get such a buzz from these days which is amazing.  My sincerest thanks go to the Committee of the LTFUC for having me as part of the driving team for the Southend and Woburn trips.  Long may these trips continue for future generations of children with disabilities and/or special educational needs” xxxx

 

Unfortunately our Hon. President, Bill Tyzack, BEM and his wife Grace, were again unable to join us and were sadly missed.  We send our best wishes to them.

Raymond Levy

(Press Officer)

 

(Many images of the day will gradually be shown in the photo gallery on our website at www.ltfuc.org.uk)