Taxi to Benidorm: Driver's trek to collect injured customer
A Newtownabbey taxi company is sending a driver to Benidorm to pick up a regular passenger who suffered a serious head injury while on holiday.
Jim Moore went missing in the Spanish resort for over 72 hours last week.
He was eventually located after 365 Taxis launched an online campaign to try and find him.
After seeing the posts on social media a woman got in touch with the company and said that she had been with Jim (58) when he was put in an ambulance after falling on steps in the resort.
He was found recovering in hospital and due to the nature of his injury had been advised not to fly for a few months. His family have travelled to Benidorm to be with him.
Phil Hamilton, 365 Taxis' driver and manager, decided that he would drive to Benidorm to bring Jim back to his family in Newtownabbey. The taxi company are covering the costs of the journey.
Phil is expected to arrive in Benidorm on Saturday or Sunday and is bringing his family along with him for company.
They left Northern Ireland on the ferry to Scotland on Thursday before travelling through the Euro Tunnel on Friday morning.
The journey will be over 1,700 miles and Phil will drive through France into Spain before picking up Jim, where he still recovering in hospital from his injuries.
They plan to travel back to Northern Ireland next Thursday via a ferry from Santander to Cork.
Phil explained how the decision to go and collect Jim came about.
"We were all talking in the office about Jim and how he was unable to travel and someone jokingly said 'we should send a taxi'," Phil said.
"We realised it was a good idea and suddenly all eyes were on me, I'm experienced driving around Europe and we decided that I would go and get him.
"We're all just so glad the story that began with Jim going missing had a happy ending. His family were understandably very worried."
Phil is leaving his meter running for the journey and running a sweepstake for people to guess how much the journey from Newtownabbey to Benidorm costs.
Money raised will go to help the search for 68-year-old Phillip Pearce from Somerset who went missing in Benidorm on September 9.
Phil said he wanted to thank the public for the outpouring of support.
"We've been inundated with people on social media and ringing the office wanting to donate and wishing us well from all over Northern Ireland, it's really quite emotional," he said.
"I can't wait until the next fare I get asks me 'what's the longest taxi journey you have done', to see their face when you say a waiting return from Newtownabbey to Benidorm and back.
"It's an honour and privledge to be able to go out and get Jim, he's more settled now that he knows he'll be able to get home and I hope to have him back in Newtownabbey with his family and friends by next Saturday."
The firm's office manager Debbie Stewart said the company had been overwhelmed by the response on social media.
"The reaction has been fantastic, a lady from Ballynahinch phoned us up to tell us how touched she was the decision to bring Jim home," she said.
"Jim's not on social media so he hasn't even seen the reaction to this. Social media gets a lot of bad press but this story shows how it can bring people together for good.
"It's a brilliant gesture from Phil and we're happy to support him. We will be glad to see Jim back home with his family."
Belfast Telegraph Digital