The London Taxidrivers’ Charity for Children were invited to attend the traditional annual London Pearly Kings and Queens Costermongers’ Harvest Festival Parade (12th Anniversary Celebrations) at the Guildhall on Sunday 26th September 2010 and I went along with the fund’s Hon. Secretary, Malcolm Shaffron and, together with our wives Maureen and Evelyn, witnessed a time-honoured, colourful and spectacular event.
The London tradition of the Pearly Kings and Queens began in 1875 when a young orphan, Henry Croft, admiring the pearl button seams on some of the market traders, decided to go one better and cover his entire suit in buttons. With the attention this drew, he set about collecting money to help others and the Pearlies are still a very active organisation collecting for many charities in London and the Greater London area.
The annual festival was arranged by Doreen and Larry Golding, who are the Pearly Queen and King of the Old Kent Road and the festival is arranged under the auspices of the Pearly Kings and Queens Society. It is because of Larry’s background of being in the navy during the war, plus the fact that the navy has an enormous tradition of being very charitable, that they get tremendous help from the Royal Naval Reserve Headquarters, HMS President, to put this event on. I would also mention that Larry was also a licensed cab driver for many years after the war and also did some work for the then Taxi Aid Society, as did his father and uncles and Doreen is a Freeman of the City of London.
The Guildhall yard rapidly became a very colourful sight and after some great entertainment, our balloon decorated taxi joined the long procession, led by the Pearlies, around the City to attend a service at the famous St Mary-Le-Bow Church, Cheapside, where the congregation were welcomed by the pealing of the Cockney Bow Bells. This was a wonderful event and it was great seeing the Pearlies proudly showing off this often forgotten aspect of London’s heritage, pageantry and costume.
We are very pleased to support the good work that the Pearlies do to benefit people across London and its surrounding areas and the Hon. President, Hon. Chairman and all the committee would like to thank them most sincerely for all the help and support they have continually given to our charity over very many years.