The Magical Taxi Tour 2017, the Clerk drives Harry Maceachen to Disneyland, Paris
I am sure that many of you have hailed a cab hoping for a nice quiet ride to your destination when, on sitting down, the cab driver says those well-worn words “You’ll never guess who I had in the back of my cab the other day”. As a very part time cab driver (you can hardly get more part time than one weekend in fifty-two) I’ve never had the opportunity of regaling others about my brushes with celebrity until now, because for once I can say “You’ll never guess who I took to Disney the other weekend”.
You don’t expect to meet too many celebrities at 5.30 on a Friday morning outside the Premier Inn at City Airport in a very dark and damp East London but that is exactly where I met my celebrity, Harry Maceachen. What do you mean “Harry who?” Well, if you simply put Harry Maceachen into your favourite internet search engine you will soon find the celebrity that is little Harry.
Once more, it was my privilege to drive a cab for the Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers’ Children’s Magical Taxi Tour to Disneyland Paris. On this trip Harry, aged 6, was joined by his dad, Simon and little brother Sam, aged 4. I could not have wished for a nicer family with which to share the weekend, although perhaps a little less energy from the boys would have been appreciated.
If you haven’t yet reached for that search engine let me give you some background. Harry has had to have two liver transplants in his very short life. Unfortunately, the first was rejected and that is when dad, Simon, became a live donor for Harry. Thankfully, it would appear that this transplant has been successful. Harry is getting stronger every day and very keen to finally be taller than his younger brother.
The Magical Taxi Tour is truly inspirational and the organiser, Phil Davis, was a very worthy winner of the City Livery Club’s Root and Branch Award a year or so ago. Until you witness it, it is very hard to imagine what it is like and I am not sure that the Master and Mistress Turner knew quite what to expect when they came to the Big Breakfast to help wave us off from the East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf. Outside they were met by more than one hundred cabs, triple parked, five ambulances, numerous convoy support vehicles, two AA trucks, three police cars (one French), a police personnel carrier, eight motorbikes (two French) and a lot of bemused Canary Wharf workers. Inside, they found two hundred excited children being encouraged to eat some breakfast by one hundred parent/adult carers and another hundred cab drivers wondering if they would survive the weekend. The music, during the breakfast, was supplied by the excellent Royal British Legion Band and Corps of Drums, Romford. Finally, to show just how important this weekend is to so many, the Sheriffs and their consorts, along with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress come to wish everyone a very safe journey and set us on our way by cutting the ribbon.
The rest of Friday was spent driving to Disneyland Paris. We were all royally looked after by P&O Ferries, whose staff made a real fuss of the kids whilst we were on board. The customary fuel stop on the way down to the resort again found the staff of the service station laying on a huge children’s party with face paints, music, giants and of course loads of cake and other sweet things. Finally about eleven hours later we arrived at Disneyland Paris all thoroughly exhausted.
It was up early on Saturday to hit the parks. I had imagined that, with two small boys, I would be making quite a few trips to ‘It’s a Small Small World’ but no, it was the rollercoaster Big Thunder Mountain that they wanted to go on and thankfully they both (just) reached the 1.02m height limit. To say they enjoyed it would be an understatement; it looked like the wind had permanently fixed huge smiles to their faces.
On Saturday evening we got dressed up in all our finery for the Gala Dinner, the highlight of which is the appearance of the Disney characters who spend the evening signing autographs and dancing with the children at the disco.
Bleary-eyed, the children appeared on Sunday morning reluctantly anticipating the long drive home. They soon revived however when they saw all the police cars and motorbikes lined up ready to have their lights turned on, their sirens sounded, ready to be climbed all over. It was actually quite amazing that the police escort was in any fit state to help us get back, but we did manage it and about 7.00 pm I said goodbye to Harry, Sam and Simon having had a wonderful weekend.
The Children’s Magical Taxi Tour could not happen without the support of the sponsors and I am very proud that the Turners is one of these and on behalf of the organising committee I would like to thank the Master, Wardens, Charity Committee and yourselves for helping to make it possible. Next year the Tour celebrates its 25th anniversary, heading off on 28th September. If you are looking for a quiet weekend in Paris it might be best to avoid that one. I, on the other hand hope to be able to represent the Turners once again on a truly magical trip.