Welcome to the 87th Chairman’s Report, yes 87 glorious years of serving ‘special needs’ children! The children are from all walks of life within the London Metropolitan area and have physical and socially impaired needs. I started my second year as Chairman at London’s Burlington Arcade in December, where we were promoting the charity and fundraising. Our London taxi dressed up as a Reindeer was a great attraction with many photo opportunities to be had. In addition to the trustees that were there, we were pleased to be joined by London’s Pearly King & Queens and the Fulham & Hammersmith Choral Society.
January commenced with our now famous Mad Hatter’s tea party in the Great Room of the Grosvenor House (a JW Marriott hotel), where we entertained over 600 deserving children from many London boroughs. On arrival the children were greeted by many characters such as the Honey Monster, the Furry Tail Folk, Star Wars characters and many more. The venue is festooned with balloons, decorations and tables full of food, following which the children are entertained by a variety of acts and shows, culminating in a huge disco. To top it all, on departure the children go through a toy grotto, where they leave laden with various toys and goodies, plus some fruit for the journey home. The event literally involves a whole army of volunteers who give up their time to make this such a wonderful day and we are deeply grateful to them all, including the hotel staff and management, the celebrities, entertainers, face painters, baloonists, the Household Cavalry, the Police, the British army, the sponsors and many others. The list is endless. I am pleased to say that Sainsbury’s (Low Hall) Chingford, E4 are supporting our charity in a very big way and, as well as raising funds for us all year round, they were involved at the tea party in so many ways, supplying and making hundreds of sandwiches for the guest visitors and entertainers and allowing us to fund raise at their store Easter and Christmas.
Our next outing took place in June, and was our legendary fabulous annual trip to the sea side. For nearly 80 of our 87 years, the charity have been taking children to Southend-on-Sea. In its modern format this involves over 120 vehicles in convoy, which includes over 100 balloon decorated taxis, plus support from St.John’s/Red Cross Ambulances, Green Flag recovery and the Essex and Metropolitan Police. Previous meeting points have always been Beaumont Square and Victoria Park in the East End. However, in 2015 we started the outing from the Sainsbury’s (Low Hall) car park in Chingford. This proved to be more convenient than Victoria Park and meant the journey was quicker by 30 minutes, so the children had even more time to enjoy themselves. The outing was once again a wonderful event enjoyed by both the children and the drivers, even though it was on the hottest day for nine years!
In September we had the pleasure of being invited to the traditional annual London Pearly Kings & Queens Costermongers Harvest Festival Parade at the Guildhall and we thank all the wonderful Pearlies for their continued support of our charity. As well as the outings and various functions that we arrange, we are also very pleased to help very needy and worthwhile causes. The charity receives on average 100 appeals a year and the committee investigates each claim on its merits and we help as many of those appeals that we can. Some of our donations include hospital equipment like baby incubators, sensory rooms for children, speciality equipment for children recovering from cancer, sailing boats specifically built for physically impaired children and even specially adapted wheelchairs for individual children. The charity is very proud to say that just under 2% of the money raised goes towards administrative expenses.
The voluntary committee on the Fund are 14 working taxi drivers and with the help and assistance from our wives and partners, we continue to do this work because we love to try and bring something special into the children’s lives. The committee would like to thank Larry Abrahams, who has now retired from the fund and wish him good luck for the future. Along with his lovely wife Sue, they have both contributed many years of hard work and dedication, helping to brighten up the lives of many deserving children. Thank you both very much.
Finally, I would like to thank the trustees and their partners for all their hard work throughout the year and send best wishes to our Hon. Life President, Bill Tyzack, BEM, and his wife Grace for a speedy recovery and continuing good health.
HON. CHAIRMAN’S REPORT (2014 – 2015)