Hammers host Cabbies Outing

West Ham United played host to a group of kind-hearted taxi drivers and more than 75 happy, smiling children on Wednesday.

The Boleyn Ground served as the starting point for the 2014 East London Cabbies Outing (ELCO) - an annual event which sees the drivers take youngsters with special needs, their families and carers for a day out in the Essex countryside.

The event, which was founded in 1952 by cabbie and future Mayor of Newham Charles Flemwell, saw the children board more than 75 elaborately decorated taxis before being led out of the stadium car park by a police escort and members of the Blue Knights motorcycle club.

Following a stop-off for refreshments at The George and Dragon in the village of Mountnessing, the cavalcade headed to the town of Maldon, where the youngsters enjoyed an afternoon they will never forget.

There, the townsfolk put on a show featuring birds of prey, magic acts, children's entertainers, pony rides, a disco and a meal and gift bag for each of the children.

ELCO Chairman Ken Flemwell - son of Charles - said the event brought pleasure to everyone involved.

East London Cabbies Outing

More than 75 taxis took part in the East London Cabbies Outing

"These are very special children and we were delighted that West Ham have provided their car park to enable us to take them on this very special day out," he began.

"The Outing was started over 60 years ago by my father at the Elizabeth Fry School in Canning Town, with the first event featuring eight cabs and 16 children. At our peak, we had over 100 cabs and this year we have about 75 cabs altogether with kids from Havering and Dagenham as well.

"Back in the early 1950s, my Dad came across these kids and knew that they never had a day out because nobody wanted them in their towns or resorts. He found that Maldon would welcome them and the Outing has been running ever since.

"The people of Maldon always welcome us and they line the streets when we get there and it makes everybody feel special."

Many of the cabbies taking part in the Outing were West Ham supporters, with some sporting the famous Claret and Blue as they climbed behind the wheel to begin their special journey.

One, part-time youth football coach Peter Maynard, said he and his fellow drivers were proud to be keeping an east London tradition alive.

"This is my sixth year doing the Outing and every I year I get a lump in my throat as we go through Maldon seeing all the town out - it's a fantastic day," he said.

"It's the cab drivers giving back to the community and back to these kids. It's us giving one day back to the kids and saying 'Have this day on us' to the families of east London.

"When I tell my friends and family about the Outing and show them all the pictures, they are very proud of what we do for the kids. It's fantastic.

"Us black cab drivers support all the London football teams, but being from east London, lots of us are Hammers and when we found out we'd be leaving from West Ham, we thought it was brilliant."

For more information about the East London Cabbies Outing, please click here.

East London Cabbies Outing

Youngsters get ready for the East London Cabbies Outing