Worthing’s Taxi Charity remembers Prince Philip’s town hall visit in 1979

Worthing’s Taxi Charity has reflected on the day His Royal Highness Prince Philip visited as its guest of honour in 1979.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 3:24 pm

The charity, which takes veterans to events and activities, had been bringing veterans to the seaside since 1948, but the summer of 1979 was the first time a senior Royal had joined them.

Prince Philip, who passed away this morning (April 9) at the age of 99, was a veteran himself, having served in the Second World War.

Vice Admiral Sir Adrian Johns, KCB, CBE, DL, Patron of the Taxi Charity, said: “We are deeply saddened at the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. His attendance at the Worthing visit over 40 years ago was a seminal moment for the Taxi Charity and is still talked about.

Prince Philip at the Taxi Charity's annual meeting in 1979. Pic: Gerry Dunn SUS-210904-152126001

“On behalf of everyone associated with the charity, I offer our heartfelt condolences to Her Majesty and the Royal Family.”

Prince Philip joined the British Royal Navy in 1939 and during the Second World War served in the Mediterranean and Pacific Fleets.

Second World War Royal Navy Veteran, Ken Benbow, said: “During the war I was posted in the Adriatic and Burma and my Officer did some training with Prince Philip after the war. I love being part of the Taxi Charity family and receive regular cards and newsletters through the post.

“I wasn’t in Worthing in 1979 as I didn’t find out about the charity until recently, but I bet the lads had a great time meeting The Duke.”

Prince Philip at the Taxi Charity's annual meeting in 1979. Pic: Gerry Dunn SUS-210904-152104001

Gerry Dunn MBE, a London licensed cabbie, was the photographer for The Taxi Charity in 1979 when Prince Philip visited the town hall.

He remembers using a 35mm camera with a roll film and at one point asked the Duke to step back a little so he could fit in the shot.

“He smiled and duly obliged,” said Gerry.

“Prince Philip entertained the room with his speech, and he referenced owning and driving an old Metro Taxi and commented ‘you bloody taxi drivers keep cutting me up’. After the speech he worked the room and talked to as many veterans as he was able before catching up with the charity committee and posing for a photograph.”

Prince Philip at the Taxi Charity's annual meeting in 1979. Pic: Gerry Dunn SUS-210904-152116001

Ian Parsons, Chairman, Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, said, “What an amazing year 1979 must have been for all the veterans, cabbies and volunteers who were in Worthing when Prince Philip was the guest of honour at the Taxi Charity event.

“To be joined by a senior member of the Royal Family, who was also a Second World War veteran, must have been a special day for everyone associated with the charity and indeed for Worthing too.”

Prince Philip at the Taxi Charity's annual meeting in 1979. Pic: Gerry Dunn SUS-210904-152136001