THIS year’s return of Cabbie Day to the Maldon town was not only a fantastic day out for the children involved.

Residents, schoolchildren, and even the cab drivers themselves were overwhelmed with the positive response.

Michelle Wood and her mother Kathy Brett have lived in Maldon for the past eleven years and this is their first Cabbie Day.

Mrs Wood said: “We thought it was really emotional.

“This was our first one because we’re usually working so we never get to see it.

“It fell on our days off so we’re lucky.

“You see the cabs coming, and you can see the children smiling from the cabs, that’s what brought a tear to our eyes.

“It showed a real community spirit.”

Mrs Brett added: “My grandson goes to the academy and he helped blow up the balloons that are hanging on the front of the Plume.

“It is such a team effort and I hope that it continues on.”

Jean Ingram organised the second part of the day at Plume Academy.

Mrs Ingram said: “We had 150 special needs children come down with 130 carers.

“The students cooked 150 roast dinners for the cabbies and the police escorts.

“It was pure team work.

“The children did the food, the singing, they put up posters on the walls, they did cheerleading.

“Without the students and staff, I couldn’t have done it.”

PC Steve Clement, who organised the supporting operation, said: “Public safety is our priority so it’s important we escort events like this due to the large number of vehicles involved.

“We’re pleased everyone arrived safely and the children are able to have their well-deserved day out in Essex.”

Marrianne McFarland, committee member for the taxi drivers, said: “This is our 65th year and it’s great to have support from Essex Police and the David Randall Foundation who have helped make this happen.

“The police have been fun, supportive and most of all kept us safe.”

Kenny Flemwell, organiser of the Cabbie Day took over from his father Charlie years ago to recruit drivers onto the event.

Mr Flemwell said: “When it first started out, my dad had eight cabs and 16 kids.

“We have kids from about ten to 12 schools from Newham and around the area.

“Sometimes this is the only day out that they get. Some count the days down.

“We’re glad it’s back”

“I have a lot of new drivers I’ve recruited and some of them have said they’ve been speechless.”

A cabbie who has been driving for 20 months had his first Cabbie Day.

He said: “It was blinding, the welcome was fantastic.

“I didn’t know what to expect but it was great. Definitely have to do it again.”

Other cabbies felt the same feeling of overwhelming pride.

One cabbie said: “I’ve been a cabbie for 17 years and I’ve been doing the Cabbie Day for ten years. It’s nice to see the kids happy.

“Most of the drivers here are from the East End of London so they really connect with the children from their community.”

Other cabbies said: “The way we were cheered at when we came in, it was like a royal procession.

“The kids are absolutely loving it when we went down the town beeping our horns.

“It was unbelievable and we’re looking forward to the next one a hundred per cent.”