On Tuesday 19th May 2009 over 300 ‘special needs’ and disadvantaged children received a special treat when they were collected from three schools in Mill Hill and Barnet and taken in two convoys of 100 taxis on a ‘Taxi Safari’ to Woburn Safari Park and we are deeply grateful to the Mayor of Barnet, Councillor John Marshall, for waving the children off. This outing was the first one to take place in the Fund’s 81st year and what a triumphant success it was.
The children were buzzing with excitement just riding in a taxi, let alone having the thrill of going on a Safari trip and it was great seeing the joy and enthusiasm on their faces. On arrival at Woburn, the two convoys either went straight on the Road Safari, where you can go round as many times as you like to see the animals, or straight in to the Safari Lodge Restaurant to enjoy a huge yummy lunch, with masses of chips on offer and ice cream covered faces! The rest of the afternoon was left for everyone to sample what the Park had to offer. Some went on the great Foot Safari, where the children can mingle with an amazing range of smaller animals from cute lemurs, wallabies and squirrel monkeys to a huge Burmese phython. Great fun was also being had on the Swan themed pedal boats and the train and some children made a dash for the Mammoth Play Ark for lots of indoor fun, with the drivers frantically chasing after them. Luckily it was a warm and dry day with a few intermittent light showers, which did not affect the day at all. At 4pm it was time for tea and whilst everyone delved into their goody bags, a boy from the Mill Hill School surprised us all by taking the microphone and asking the crowd to give three cheers to the Committee and drivers – how lovely! At 5pm it was back to the taxis and the return journey home.
The Hon. President, Hon. Chairman and the committee would like to thank the Metropolitan Police and the Bedfordshire Constabulary for ensuring we had a safe journey. Chief Superintendent, Joe Royle, of the Metropolitan Police later commented “The Transport Operational Command Unit was pleased to be able to lend its assistance to this charitable event. Our expertise in roads policing and the helpfulness of all the officers involved, helped to ensure a smooth journey and enjoyable day by all”.
We must also thank Fords at Dagenhams (Welfare Dept) for the loan of their mini bus and are grateful to Bob Collins for driving it. We also extend grateful thanks to the RAC and St. John’s Ambulance who accompanied us and to London Communications, LBC, BBC London Radio and Talk Sport for their coverage and particularly to Louise Beale from ITV Anglia, who was filming in my cab on the Road Safari trip. She told me she was enjoying herself so much and was really sorry she had to leave early to get us on the news, but was very keen to join us on our next outing on 14th July to Southend-on-Sea.
A brilliant day was had by all and we must extend grateful thanks and appreciation to Woburn Safari Park and the Woburn Lodge Restaurant for their kind hospitality. We are also deeply grateful to Lovells for their sponsorship and to LTI Vehicles for sponsoring the fuel. Last, but not least, we must once again thank all the wonderful drivers who gave up a day’s work to take the children out and, of course, all the fantastic helpers, as without you all there would be no outings.
On behalf of the children we thank you all for helping us
to make this memorable day possible.