‘Soldier with Flowergirl’ statue for Taxi Charity’s Dick Goodwin

Wageningen – On May 3, Dick Goodwin received the bronze statue ‘Soldier with flower girl’ from mayor Agnes Schaap. The statue is awarded to people who make an exceptional contribution to passing on the Airborne history.

Dick received this appreciation from the municipality of Renkum for all the efforts he made on behalf of the Taxi Charity for the British Arnhem veterans. His wife Suzy Goodwin was also thanked by Mayor Schaap for all the support.

Big surprise

Dick was surprised before diner at the hotel were the veterans stay for the Liberation Parade at Wageningen the 5th of May. They arrived today in The Netherlands. Before they started diner mayor Agnes Schaap came in, took the microphone and asked Dick and Suzy to come and stand with her. Before that, the speech of the mayor, written in English, was handed to everybody in the room. Dick, busy as always, taking care of things, didn’t really notice but the mayor told him to take it with him.

The mayor held her speech in Dutch. Dick is of course the hero of the veterans, so it was quiet and they, their carers and all the taxi-drivers carefully read with her. Mayor Schaap thanked both Dick as Suzy and left no doubt: thanks to them, ‘our veterans’ were able to come to The Netherlands again and again.

The Goodwins were really surprised and also really happy with this token of appreciation. Dick: when he was seated again after he thanked mayor Schaap for the statue, still flabbergasted: “I really, really did not expect this!”

Happy? “O yes, really happy!”

Speech Mayor Agnes Schaap

Dear attendees and a special welcome to Dick and Suzy Goodwin,

Dear Dick, as vice-chairman of the voluntary organisation Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, you are a highly appreciated person in the municipality of Renkum, Wageningen and the Airborne Region.

At an early age and through your working life you developed an interest in the lives of veterans. Your father served in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War and landed on Sword Beach in the early hours of D-Day. This inspired you to meet other veterans and learn about their stories.

In 2004 you became involved with the Taxi Charity. Step by step you did more and more for the Taxi Charity with the main motive: recognition and support of the veterans, to get them the acknowledgement acknowlegement they deserve.

Since 2010 you have made a tremendous effort to maintain the connection between the World War Two Arnhem-veterans and the residents and visitors of Oosterbeek, Renkum, Wageningen and the Airborne Region.

The first cooperation with the municipality of Renkum dates from 2012. At that time you came up with the wonderful plan to give 150 veterans in 80 London taxis a warm welcome in Oosterbeek on May 5th. We were celebrating our Liberation Day together, which unfortunately did not succeed 68 years ago, despite the courageous struggle. As a municipality we were happy to participate. The march with the unique and striking taxis drew a lot of attention. All the inhabitants of the municipality and beyond turned out to welcome our heroes from 1944. It was a special and emotional event, which we can all be very proud of.

During the pandemic you were also the driving force to keep in touch with the veterans. The Taxi Charity has ensured that all veterans have received gifts and been honoured with a visit over the past two years.

In the process, you also established and maintained an active connection with the inhabitants and the municipal councils of the Airborne Region. In September 2021, the Taxi Charity made a film in which the veterans made it clear to their friends in the Netherlands that they had to miss the annual commemorations in September, due to the pandemic and that the missed their Dutch friends. It says a lot about their involvement and solidarity with this place and it’s inhabitants. In 1944 every metre was fought for our freedom. That’s a very special bond that we cherish. It also shows that even in a battle for peace, friends can be made. I deeply respect our veterans, their families and loved ones.

Thanks to the Taxi Charity and your selfless commitment, this bond keeps evolving. Thanks to you, the close bond that the veterans have with this region remains alive, despite the limitations. And with your help, we can continue to honour them and maintain the legacy of the many men who fought here.

The work of the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans is not only widely appreciated here, but also in the United Kingdom itself. Last summer, the Taxi Charity was presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services (QAVS) by Queen Elizabeth II. That is one of the highest honours for voluntary organisations in the UK. When I heard the news I was not surprised. On the contrary. In my humble opinion the Taxi Charity has more than earned this award by organising events and memorial trips for veterans in the fight against loneliness.

The cooperation with the Taxi Charity, and with you Dick in particular, as it’s initiator, is very much appreciated by us. All activities are prepared with care and the discussions take place in an open and friendly atmosphere. Putting our shoulders to the wheel together, doing what is possible for the veterans. That is how I describe best your approche. All these efforts have led to an annual visit of the veterans around May 4th and 5th, and of course also during the Airborne March and the Airborne commemorations in September.

The municipality of Renkum want to reward you for all these efforts for the veterans. That is why I am presenting you with a special bronze sculpture that we municipality of Renkum have had made: ‘Soldier with flower girl’. The statue is awarded to people who make an exceptional contribution to passing on the Airborne history.

There is a striking story behind the sculpture. A little girl is carrying a large sunflower and walking at the hand of a soldier. The soldier symbolises the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944. The little girl with the sunflower symbolises the liberation and peace. She is also the symbol of all the ‘flower children’. Starting in 1945 every year schoolchilderen lay flowers on the graves of the fallen soldiers during the memorial service at the Airborne cemetery in Oosterbeek.

Dick, this little statue is awarded to people who make a special contribution to the Airborne history. You have more than earned it with your activities for the Taxi Charity. Thank you so much!

And also a big “Thank you Suzy”. You are a great help to Dick and the Taxi Charity, taking care of many things, and the designs. Please keep up the good work.

♦♦♦

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