This week, I asked Dickie Hudd, Honorary Chairman of the London Taxi Benevolent Association for the War Disabled, pictured here with comedian Al Murray at the send-off from the Union Jack Club Club in London, to send me some of his thoughts and memories from the trip.
My mind’s been filled with so many thoughts, memories and pictures: the smiles, the children, the sheer number of people who turned out to greet us, the warmth, the affection and the kindness that was shown to us on this wonderful trip. ‘A trip of a lifetime’. This has been said so many times, by so many people, veterans and our taxi drivers, it’s seemed like a record being played. Our committee have racked their collective brains and all have come to the conclusion that this Netherlands trip is the best thing the charity has ever done.
The help and assistance from the Dutch people was truly amazing. The police escorts, from the time we arrived, until the time we left, were outstanding. The Papendal Hotel was perfect, the food and accommodation first class. Many people gave of their time and worked hard to make this venture a success. The effort made by our Dutch friends was phenomenal. My thanks go out to all of them. Franz, Hans, Henk, Powel Vos, Brigitte, Wiel, Kathy and Tim from the Papendal, our heartfelt thanks to you all.
I think, like me, nearly everyone will have one special memory. Mine is of veteran Alan Reade, 87 years old, singing his father’s favourite song on our last evening. Alan’s father fought in the trenches in the first world war at the age of 16. He told me what a wonderful father he’d been and that he said he still missed him to this day. With tears in his eyes and his voice breaking up, he then started to sing these words: “Comrades comrades ever since we were boys, Sharing each other’s sorrows, sharing each other’s joys.”
Alan gave me a memory I will treasure. Thank you all for the chance to renew old friendships, and bless you all for the opportunity to forge new ones.