On Saturday 5 June, a group of WWII veterans were invited to enjoy an afternoon on the Normandy Flyer steam train on The Battlefield Line in Leicestershire
The WWII veterans were driven to the Battlefield Line in London Black cabs driven by Taxi Charity volunteers. The veterans enjoyed a ride on a steam train which had been renamed Normandy Flyer for this special visit. The Normandy Flyer left Shackerstone station at 12.30pm on 5 June, in glorious sunshine, and travelled via Market Bosworth before arriving at Shenton. The London volunteer cabbies, the veterans and their carers all enjoyed a fabulous picnic on the return journey to Shackerstone. The visit was particularly poignant as the line had been used to transport fuel for the D Day invasion in 1944.
Dick Goodwin, Vice President, The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, said, “The Taxi Charity had been invited to take WWII veterans to the National Memorial Arboretum on 6 June to watch the opening of the British Normandy Memorial and when we heard about The Battlefield Line, we decided to make a weekend of it. Our volunteer cabbies brought veterans from all over the Southeast, and we were joined by a veteran from Kenilworth and a group of veterans from Preston. The volunteers who run the Battlefield Line really looked after us well and ensured everything was spotlessly clean and that we were able to adhere to social distance guidelines. I am sure the volunteers who run the Battlefield Line enjoyed the veterans’ visit as much our veterans did.”
101-Year-old WWII veteran Major Ted Hunt said, “What a fabulous day. The sound of the steam train brought back so many lovely memories for us all. We are so lucky to be part of the Taxi Charity family and we have an amazing group of volunteer London cabbies who always look after us veterans so well. It’s been a difficult fifteen months with all the pandemic restrictions, so to be out enjoying ourselves with our fellow veterans was just what we all needed.”
On the following day, (6 June) the 77th anniversary of D Day, The Taxi Charity volunteer cab drivers took the veterans to the National Memorial Arboretum to watch the opening of the British Normandy Memorial
To find out more about the support the Taxi Charity offers veterans visit www.taxicharity.org
About The Battlefield Line
The Battlefield Line is the last remaining part of the former Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway which was opened in 1873. It runs from Shackerstone via Market Bosworth to Shenton in Leicestershire and is operated by the Shackerstone Railway Society. Shackerstone Station is at the northern end of the line, and is the headquarters of the railway with museum, Victorian tearoom souvenir shop, loco shed and main rolling stock located here. There is ample free parking, and the Ashby Canal is just a stone’s throw away.
About the Taxi Charity
The Taxi Charity is run by volunteer London black taxi drivers and has been supporting thousands of veterans of all ages since 1948. The charity arranges free trips to the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, for acts of commemoration and days out to museums, concerts, or fundraising events in the UK, to catch up with friends and comrades.
Pandemic restrictions meant events had to be cancelled and the Charity has worked tirelessly to ensure veterans received regular contact by sending out a greeting card each month, gifts to mark the 75th anniversaries of VE and VJ day, stockings at Christmas and arranging Guards of Honour at veterans’ funerals. Volunteers have also helped with regular phone calls, food shopping, transport to hospital appointments, and more recently taking veterans for their Coronavirus injections.
The charity was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in June 2021.
To fund and facilitate their work, the charity is reliant on generous donations from members of the public, businesses, and trusts.