The Worshipful Company of Turners

Supporting the Craft, City and Charity for over four hundred years

The Children’s Magical Taxi Tour to Disneyland Paris

by Alex Robertson, Liveryman and Retired Clerk of the Company

After an absence of three years the Children’s Magical Taxi Tour returned with a bang over the weekend of 16th – 18th September 2022. After having cancelled the last two trips the organising committee wondered if this trip would happen, given the pressure the emergency services were under in staffing the events associated with the Queen’s death. Thankfully, the doctors, ambulance crews and police were all allowed to continue and the trip went ahead.

Once again I had the honour and privilege of driving the taxi sponsored by the Company’s Charity Committee. I first met my family on Friday morning in a very dark car park at the Premier Inn hotel at City Airport. Despite the 5.30 am start they all seemed pretty excited by the prospect of the adventure awaiting them. Vance, aged 8 and a patient of Birmingham Children’s Hospital was accompanied by his older brother Ellis, 9 and his mum Samantha.

First stop was the Big Breakfast at Canary Wharf where, for the first time, it was possible to truly appreciate the scale of the event. Ninety-three black cabs, each transporting a family, were stacked in front of the East Wintergarden. There were additional cabs to take the various hospital medical teams along with 5 ambulance vehicles, 3 police cars, 6 police motorcyclists (I almost forget the two motorcycles and police car driven by the French Gendarmes) and possibly the most important of all, the AA breakdown vehicles, although all hoped that they wouldn’t be needed!

We left just after 7.00 am on our way to Dover and then France. It is a very long day and drive for all concerned, punctuated by the ferry crossing and the children’s tea party generously hosted by the staff of the services at Aire Assevillers. We finally arrive at Disneyland some 13 hours later. I can assure you that I was not the only person in the cab that was completely shattered!

No time to rest though as the Magic Kingdom opens at 8.30 am and we embarked on full day of everything Disney. Thankfully the two boys were a little young for the bigger and faster rollercoasters but I did find myself on the Flying Dumbo ride on more than one occasion! Exhausted we made our way back to the hotel, not to rest as you might expect but to get changed into our glad rags for the Gala Dinner and Children’s Disco. There definitely is no rest on this trip!

Any thoughts that a long drive on Friday and a very full and active day late into the night on Saturday would result in a subdued Sunday morning was quickly dispelled by the children (and some adults) climbing over the police motorbikes and cars making as much noise as all their engines and sirens can produce! It did, at least, make sure that we were fully awake when we started on the drive back to Calais.

It was 7.00 pm when we finally got back to the Premier Inn that evening. Vance and Ellis were met by their dad Carl, who drove the last leg back to Cheshire. Thankfully I was only 20 minutes away from home.

Once more, I was taken aback by how these families deal with the challenges they face on a daily basis. Their resilience and their desire to enjoy life to the full and create memories for evermore is truly inspirational.

On behalf of Vance, Ellis and Samantha I would like to thank the Turners for sponsoring their trip that weekend. I already have the dates for the Children’s Magical Taxi Tour 2023 and I very much hope that I will, once again, be driving the Turner’s Company sponsored cab.

Alex Robertson

Liveryman and Retired Clerk of the Company

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