The uncle was Tom Whitbread a London cab driver, who together with fellow cabbie
Bob Heath and Bobs daughter Verna, set about devising a plan to raise enough
money to allow these unfortunate children to fulfill their dream.
How do you raise £40,000 in as many days? They didn't have a clue, but that
wasn't going to deter them either.
Access to office facilities and a computer was granted by Dial-A-Cab, London's
premier licensed taxi operator. The trio set about publishing a two page article
relating to the plight of these children. Photocopies were made and distribution
was begun, both within the taxi trade as well as anybody else that they came into
contact. In the hope that anybody could help with this mammoth task.
Trevor Wood one of the founders, was also a publican and managed a very large
pub in Essex. Trevor suggested that we hold an evening of entertainment and to
this end some 38 acts were asked to participate. They all turned up and gave
their services free of charge. Groups such as "The Tremolo's" "The Rubettes" and
"Gidea Park" Page 3 Girls conducted the raffle and assisted with the auction.
At 7.30pm the doors opened and at 04.30 they closed (the pub had been drunk dry
the acts were exhausted and the charity had made £27,000.00. Nearly there!
Some of the children concerned would have to be transported from Belfast into
Heathrow (Aer Lingus saw to that) and consequently transport needed to be
arranged between Heathrow and Gatwick. Grey Green Coaches alleviated this problem
by donating coaches and drivers.
With only days to go all the money needed was raised, the various parties were
paid and the trip went ahead.
Sadly for many of those children it was to be their last.