Who are we?
Since those original few drivers, more and more have joined our happy band and The Albany now takes more than 500 Special Needs Children in over 200 Licensed taxis to Three major venues as well as Thorpe Park, Chessington and visits to Pantomimes.
After years of leaving from Neate Street, off the Old Kent Road, the committee (after consultation with the Metropolitan Police,) it was decided that it was getting too dangerous as a leaving venue, so a new home had to be found.
A short stay at Blackheath Field and then to the Crest Leisure Centre at Kidbrooke and all was well for five years and then we were told that it was closing and again we had no point to leave from. Suggestions came from drivers, but all the venues seen, could not give us the space to park over one hundred Licensed Taxis.
Then just when the committee was going to cancel the outing for good, we had a phone call from Charlton Athletic Football Club, saying that they had heard about our problem, and they would hold an urgent meeting and make an immediate decision. The reply was swift, not only full backing from all at Charlton but could they help in any way, the trip could go ahead again, and the happy ending was that 400 plus children with Special Needs could again go to the coast, thanks to our local football team who, the committee of the Albany Charity all agree, really are working for community relationship.
Hastings was our next venue and with the help from our late President Bob Baylis and his friends, Gina and George, we started our second major outing. After stopping on the way at Scotney Castle for a few years we were offered bigger facilities at Bewl Water, which is now still our first stop for refreshments.
We proceed to the outskirts of the town and are then escorted in by the Mayor of Hastings and his Fire Brigade and entourage. The children are allowed (free of charge) on the funfair and other amusements, then at 3-30 everybody goes to the Hastings Centre at St Leonard’s for dinner and disco, before the journey back to London.
In 2004 our Secretary had a call from a charity that deals with children who are from Chernobyl in Russia. Would we take them to the seaside for the day, they had never been before.
The arrangements for this trip were soon in place organized by our man Dave Jarvis and his friends from the Catholic Club at Herne Bay, they would sponsor the day and what a day it was with free rides, a fish and chip dinner, jelly and ice cream to follow and then a Disco to finish, you think the Birdie Song is silly in English, you should hear it in Russian.
It was such a great day that we have been asked if this could become a regular trip and with our friends at Herne Bay giving us the go ahead, this is now our third trip of the year. We now have some new guests they are the children and nurses from Delmalzia House Hospice.
Next trip is Margate, where we are given the freedom of the town, we welcome children from the Cerebral Palsy Centre at Cliffe Woods in Kent and their Taxis join us on the way. All the organization at the Centre is co-ordinated by Tony and Tina Loftus We then make our way past the most amazing scenes, from Westbrook on the outskirts of Margate, the crowds of children and adults must be seen to believe, all shouting and holding hand-made banners welcoming us for the day. The local schools on route are also there and the Mayor of Margate and the Margate Carnival Queens and the float supplied by Mike and Shirley Tomlinson who also help to make this a spectacular cavalcade. We are waved on our way by the local schools, Janet at St Martins and her friends at Westgate.
The Children are then allow to take in the music and funfair before making their way to the Winter Gardens for Tea and drinks, a show and to finish with the Disco which is provided free by Stirling Disco’s and then at 6-00pm it’s time for the journey back, the children are taken to their homes first and the helpers afterwards the drivers are then free to go home.
It was after a trip to check on our schools and homes that we found, many things, not just outings were needed, Televisions, stereo’s, sound equipment, karaoke machines, trikes, wheelchairs and bikes (made to measure) and even a request for hand-bells (which supermarket sells them).
So it seemed that we would have to raise some more funds, so sponsorship for the cabs was started and with more help from The Heathrow Taxi-drivers the money started to come in we then turned to The London Marathon and our runners over the years have done us proud raising over £10,000 this year alone they raised £4000. If you would like to sponsor them please contact Dave Cannell at 07704441824 or visit our link to Just Giving.
In 2007 our new friend Tessa of TI Music put on a rock concert at The Britannia in Margate and Keith Daniels at the Seashell Restaurant Lisson Grove NW1 held a month’s sponsorship campaign. £2000 with another £1000 from K.D.W.Merchant Bank and another further £1000 from London Taxi Drivers Association.
All this from a band of volunteers, we are truly a real Charity