The Magical Taxi Tour gives sick children a break from their world of treatment and therapy by going on a trip of a lifetime to Disneyland Resort Paris in a convoy of London Taxis. And this year we had the special opportunity to support a family, driven to Paris by our own Clerk! Corris, proposed by the Teenage Cancer Trust, his mother Sheila and friend Charlie made the fantastic journey together and the Clerk tells the story:
Friday October 12th saw the start of the 19th annual Children’s Magical Taxi Tour to Disneyland Paris organised by the Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers. For the last 3 years I have been involved in providing the police escort for the convoy but this year I was particularly privileged to be able to drive a cab. Not just any cab, but the Worshipful Company of Turners’ cab made possible by the kind support of the Master and Deputy Master. Read the very moving and heartening report from the clerk here.
At 6.00am on a dark and dank Friday morning at the Premier Inn, City Airport I met my family, Sheila, her 14 year old son Corris and his friend Charlie, all from Newport Wales. Corris had been complaining of severe pains in his leg for a considerable number of months which his GP put down to growing pains. When the pain became unbearable, they managed to convince their doctor to refer Corris to a specialist. It was then they found that he had a tumour on his femur. Corris underwent a seven and a half hour operation in March this year which involved the removal of part of the femur containing the tumour, subjecting it to intensive radiotherapy treatment and then re-inserting the treated bone into the leg. The operation was a success and the prognosis is thankfully very good but I am sure you can imagine the trauma the family had been through. Corris had been nominated for the trip by the Teenage Cancer Trust.
The weekend truly started at the Big Breakfast hosted by Canary WharfPLC. It is here that those going on the trip first come together. The breakfast is a lavish affair attended by the Lord Mayor, the Lady Mayoress along with the Sheriffs and their ladies. Entertainment is provided by the Blues and Royals and Disney cartoons. Our Master was also in attendance with the other Masters and Clerks of sponsoring livery companies. At7.50amto a rousing chorus of horns and sirens the Lord Mayor cut the ribbon and the convoy moved off.
More than 120 vehicles made up the convoy which on occasions stretched more than 5 miles as it made its way toDover. At the port we are loaded on to the ferry for the crossing and an opportunity for everyone to stretch their legs. On arrival atCalaisit is back into the cabs for the long haul to Disney. Everyone arrived at the Hotel Cheyenne safely, tired and a little over excited – well I certainly was!
Saturday consisted of a full day in the park. The organisers provide everything that the families could possibly want. Probably the most important thing was the pass that allowed us to miss all the queues. The weather was not particularly kind but we still managed 9 hours before leaving to get ready for the gala dinner.
The dinner was held at the Newport Bay Hotel which was quite appropriate for my family. The guest of honour was the Lady Mayoress who had travelled fromLondonthat morning to spend a day with the tour before joining the Lord Mayor inSouth America. The room was beautifully decorated, everyone had dressed smartly and the children were made to feel incredibly special. The dinner was going well until the Disney characters entered the room and joined the party. Fun and mayhem was the result with a number of very tired children being carried back to their rooms at 11.00pm.
Sunday saw the return journey. Before we make off the children get a chance to climb over the police vehicles and get their pictures taken and then the horns start up again and we are off. An indication of how well the families enjoy the weekend is how lonely I was on the drive back. My family certainly did not see much ofFranceas they slept nearly the entire way back. After 12 hours on the road I eventually said goodbye to my family as they made their way back toNewport.
Words do not easily describe how much pleasure the families get from this wonderful trip. I heard Sheila talking to her family on the way back saying that they had not stopped laughing since they got to London, how special they had been made to feel and how they had not wanted for anything. She was incredibly appreciative of the Turners Company for sponsoring our cab and for the Hackney Carriage Drivers for making it all possible. She, Corris and Charlie all thought that the weekend had been truly magical and one that would live in their memories for many years. But as much as you can be impressed with the tremendous organisation that goes on behind the scenes to make the tour happen; the true inspiration comes from the children themselves. The way they face their problems and illnesses in a very matter of fact way and get on with their lives, which may be very short, is humbling and puts all our worries into context. I hope the Magical taxi Tour continues to bring joy and happiness into the lives of seriously ill children for many years to come.