Hon. Chairman, David Lessman
It is with much sadness that I have to report the passing away of former trustees Tommy Smith and Ivor Smer – the latter serving as Chairman over thirty years ago – and Douglas Sherry MBE, one of the taxi trade’s true benefactors and good friend to the Fund. Sincere thoughts are with their families, as they are for those trustees, drivers and supporters who have suffered personal tragedy or ill health during the year. I have once again been proud to represent The London Taxidrivers’ Charity for Children during the past year in my capacity as Chairman and I thank my fellow trustees for their hard work over the last twelve months. I thank their wives and partners, without whose encouragement the Fund would not function so well and, as always, the trade press for their continued and loyal interest in reporting all the Fund activities.
It would be very wrong of me to state that 2009 was an anticlimax, following such an eventful and successful 80th Anniversary year in 2008, but as the saying goes – the show must go on! The annual party at The Grosvenor House, to whom so much is owed for their waiving of all costs, was in January and once again nearly 600 disadvantaged and ‘special needs’ children enjoyed a full afternoon of fun, food and entertainment. The presentation of an electric bench to Kisharon School also took place in January and I was invited in February to speak at the Highfield Womens Club. Press Officer, Ray Levy and his wife Maureen were guests at the Bournemouth Carnival Band Dinner and Dance as a thank-you for allowing the Band to support a number of Fund events. The Fund now has a flourishing website where full reports of all the Fund’s functions and events can be found and this is ably managed by Maureen, to whom I am sincerely grateful for all her hard work. I am also indebted to John Anderson and all at the Royal Oak for holding a very successful Easter raffle in favour of the Fund and wish them continued success when they move to their new premises.
The first outing of the year to Woburn Safari Park in May proved to be an unqualified success and even though some of the 100 plus drivers found alternative routes, both to and from Woburn, everybody agreed that with the great weather and first class facilities, this venue made an excellent day out. One of the invited groups, Underhill School, later in the year welcomed the committee at a special assembly, where a generous cheque was given to the Fund. In June, the Hilton Foundation held a fund-raising cycle ride in the Euston Hilton and an extremely inappropriately dressed and unfit Yours Truly took part! Also in June members of the committee were made welcome at the official opening of the Medical Room at Woodfield School, which had been fully stocked and furnished by the LTFUC. The regular outing to Southend-on-Sea took place in July and once again I have to thank the many sponsors who make this day possible, the countless army of drivers, helpers and others too numerous to mention, who lend their support and the children who are our guests for the day.
The Fund has supported the Metropolitan Police Summer Camp Project (now known as ‘Giving a Child a Break’) for many years and their kind invitation to attend the Barbecue and Prize-giving on the last night was well attended by the Committee and their wives. Although the children’s activities were severely curtailed this year, an invitation to visit a West End theatre to see ‘Hairspray’ was greeted with much enthusiasm. In August, I was honoured to represent the LTFUC, together with The Taxi Driver of the Year Charity Fund and The London Taxi Benevolent Association for War Disabled, at a memorial presentation to the Marylebone Diabetic Clinic in memory of the late Doug Sherry, MBE. Following the success of last year’s event, the Fund once again held an Open Day at Covent Garden in September and taxi-drivers and public alike were made aware of the Fund’s activities. I am most grateful to Doug Cheshire of the LVTA and his 1934 Austin taxi for assisting with the fund raising.
In conclusion, 2009 has been yet another tremendous year and I look forward to 2010 being equally successful. It must always be remembered that the trustees are working London taxi drivers, who not only take no remuneration for their time, but restrict management and administration expenses to below 2% of total income! The London Taxidrivers’ Charity for Children is the broker between those who need and those who have and I am proud to join my fellow trustees and many of London’s taxi drivers, in bringing a little happiness to so many disadvantaged children of London.
David S. Lessman