The 23rd annual Magical Taxi Tour departed from the East Wintergarden at Canary Wharf on Friday, September 16 2016.
The Big Breakfast, which has become a major feature of the trip, was attended by all those taking part together with dignitaries and sponsors of the event.
After being fed and watered, everyone was ready for the exciting journey to Disneyland Paris.
The countdown begun and the event was started by the cutting of the ribbon by Dr Christine Rigden the sheriff of the City of London and master of the Worshipful Company Of Hackney Carriage Drivers .
The convoy of taxis departed to the sound of the marching band - 120 vehicles, including 100 taxis, taking children with life limiting illnesses on a truly magical journey, safely escorted by the City Of London Police and the French Gendarmes, who travel over the day before, who are supported by the London Ambulance Service, the AA and medical teams from the hospitals where the children are treated.
The weather this year was a little inclement on the trip down to Dover but the pouring rain could not dampen the spirits of the excited children who were given the VIP treatment, with the police escort closing roads for the safe progression of the convoy.
All along the route the weather had not deterred people from coming out and waiting on the bridges for the convoy, waving and cheering as the procession of taxis filed past them.
After the short trip along the M2 and A2, the taxis assembled on the quayside to board the ferry, kindly donated by P&O.
Once on board everyone could relax and enjoy the packed lunch, kindly supplied by the Marriot Hotel West India Quay.
In Calais the convoy reformed ready for the journey towards Paris and, ultimately, Disneyland.
A pit stop at Aire De Repos Assevillers Ouest services saw the taxis and support vehicles refueled while the children were entertained by a band.
The staff lay on face painting and provided refreshments so that everyone was ready for the remainder of the journey.
Due to the earlier start the taxis reached the Cheyenne Hotel in Disneyland earlier than usual with the benefit of daylight, which made the trip a lot easier.
But during the last leg of the journey one of the taxi drivers became separated, losing sight of the convoy due to the hectic traffic and an articulated lorry.
Unfortunately, he did not have his sat nav with him as he didn’t think he would need it and, as it was getting dark, he became totally disorientated.
Our wonderful City Of London Police took it upon themselves to go out and find him.
Like International Rescue they drove off into the Paris road network determined to find the lost driver and the family.
They did not let us down and soon located the lost taxi and escorted the driver and family to the Disneyland Resort. This was one occasion when the driver was happy that a police car was looking for him.
One hundred taxis parked in the car park made for quite an impressive sight and attracted many admiring looks from other guests at the resort, with many taking pictures of their family standing by a taxi.
On Saturday morning the excited children could not wait to take the short bus ride over to Disneyland Park, making sure that their carers and drivers were up early to take advantage of every available hour to enjoy the rides.
Once in the park the children made use of the fast track passes that allowed them to bypass the queues so that they could pack as much into their day as possible.
When entering the park, seeing the look of delight upon the children’s faces made it obvious how worthwhile this trip was, giving these children a deserved break from the rigor of their world of hospitals and treatment.
It really does give you a warm feeling inside that you have made a difference to a child’s life on a trip to Disneyland, and without the support provided that child may not have been able to enjoy the magic offered by the charity.
The London Ambulance Service provided a constantly manned first aid post in the park so that any issues could be sorted with the minimum of fuss and the children could carry on enjoying their day.
On Saturday night the fun didn’t stop. The Children’s Gala Party took place at the New York Hotel where everyone is treated to a meal and disco dancing until late.
Disney characters came out and joined in with the fun with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald and Daisy Duck, the chipmunks, Goofy and Pluto all signing autographs and allowing the children to take selfies with them before joining in with the dancing. Have you done the conga with Mickey & Minnie?
On Sunday it was unfortunately time for the return journey home, during which many of the children slept, tired from their fun-filled magical weekend.
After a quick stop at Assevillers where the children enjoyed their packed lunch, it was off to Calais again to catch our return P&O ferry to Dover.
Once aboard, a meal was provided in the food court. No one goes hungry over this weekend!
The smooth crossing brought us home to Dover where the taxis alighted the ferry to rounds of applause from the passengers waiting to board on the quayside.
Everyone said their goodbyes and the taxis headed off in different directions to deliver their precious passengers home safe and sound.
The Magical Taxi Tour, organised by the Worshipful Company Of Hackney Carriage Drivers, is a testament to the kindness of the drivers and all the support services and their generosity in giving their time and the use of their vehicles freely.
The chairman of the organising committee, Phil Davis, was extremely grateful to everyone who helped to make the trip possible, from the larger corporate sponsors all the way through to those making donations through JustGiving.
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