The London Taxi Benevolent Association for the War Disabled is a small charity run by volunteer taxi drivers. Since 1948 the charity has been devoted to making the lives of veterans more enjoyable, arranging entertainment and taking them on trips – often in spectacular convoys of a hundred or so London Black Cabs.
Ever since my first encounter with the charity in 2011 I’ve wanted to help draw attention to its work. In the process, I’ve become fascinated by the often-derided community of Black Cab drivers in London, especially their relationship with the veterans of World War II. I’ve also been drawn to the stories, language, camaraderie and strength of spirit of the veterans, many of whom are remarkably socially and physically active in their early 90’s. In particular, I’ve noticed how much music has a central role in their interactions with each other and the Cabbies.
Anthropologists don’t only carry out research. Sometimes they make films, or make things happen. Over the last few years I’ve developed a small scale multi-media project in response to these interests. This has become increasingly more elaborate. The project includes a blog www.veteransroadtrip.com, photography, short films and a number of musical ‘happenings’ – a few nights evenings of singing at The Coach and Horses pub in Soho in London, a Veterans Tea Party/sing-along in the bar at the London HQ of global ad agency Ogilvy and Mather, a ‘Talent Night’ during one of the charity’s trips to Holland and an educational event at Chelsea College of Art. These events have been incorporated into the charity’s own increasingly more sophisticated social media activities.
Lastly, I have recently produced and directed a documentary – ‘Return of the Liberators’ – working closely with Creation Company, and Hogarth and Ogilvy. This documents the charity’s trip to The Netherlands in 2015, when 120 WWII veterans travelled in a convoy of nearly a hundred Black Cabs to take part in the National Liberation Commemorations to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.
If you are a charity or organisation looking for a filmmaker to bring your work to life, please get in touch.