The £4,300 taxi bill, which  made friendly Phil a hero

PHIL HAMILTON is a hard-working cabbie for the Belfast company 365 taxis, but passengers, apart from saying “thank you”, now press him for selfies.

They even stop his wife in the supermarket to tell her he’s a “hero”. And it’s all because a good deed he performed for a pal went viral.

The 43-year-old cabbie embarked on the longest journey of his life: six countries, totalling 2,522 miles, and all to help his friend in need.

Phil travelled all the way to Benidorm to pick up injured friend Jim Moore and take him home, all at the expense of 365 taxis.

News of fellow-Newtonabbey man Jim Moore, 58, sent shockwaves through County Antrim when his friends learned that he had gone missing in Benidorm on Friday, 15th November, at 11pm.

The shock turned to desperation as here was no news of Jim’s whereabouts for 72 hours. Then a Spanish nurse contacted a friend, via an appeal on the Benidorm community Facebook page.

It turned out that Jim had slipped on the stairs to the Acuarium II hotel complex, and needed an urgent ambulance to Vila Joiosa Hospital, where he was placed into an induced coma.

He had no documentation on him, which meant the family had no news, until the nurse recognised Jim in a missing-person’s post on social media.

But his ordeal was not over, because when he came round, Spanish doctors ordered him not fly for three months for fear of cabin pressure on his injuries.

Phil told the Olive Press from Northern Ireland: “They were very worrying times, but we were absolutely ecstatic when we found out he was in hospital.”

“Jim has been a great customer of 365 Taxis, and I often have a wee pint with him at our pub. So when we found out he couldn’t fly for three months, we talked jokingly about sending a taxi to Benidorm.

“I said, ‘that’s the way to do it, and all we need is a driver’. Suddenly, all eyes were on me, and how could I turn around and say No?”

As soon as he’d left Belfast for Benidorm, the news made national headlines in Britain, Spain and worldwide.

A whopping nine days, 82 driving hours and the taxi meter reading £4,300, Jim was safely home in Newtonabbey with his family.

“365 Taxis agreed to cover all the costs, which was a lovely gesture from our directors,” said Phil. “And the public’s response has been unbelievable.

“Our company’s been inundated with media calling, and people even brought presents into the office. We’ve even had messages of support from New Zealand, Australia and America.

“People in Benidorm were making us sandwiches for the journey home, Brittany Ferries gave us all free passage from Santander to Cork, and last night, a local Indian restaurant gave us a complimentary meal.

Phil added: “The story has given people hope. We might fight among each other, but when one of us in need, we all gather round, regardless of race, colour or creed.

“I think the reason it touched the hearts of so many people is that stories like this usually turn out pretty badly. But this had a happy ending.”

Phil was quick to praise everyone involved, especially Katie Dell from Benidorm Reviews and Dave McQueen, from the Benidorm community Facebook page, for making appeals that reached the Spanish nurse.

He said the story demonstrated the power of social media, restoring the faith in humanity of everyone involved. As for Jim, he has made a ‘rapid recovery!”


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Posted by on Dec 5 2019. Filed under World News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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