A CARING cabbie who sacrifices his Christmas Day to drive people to visit sick relatives in hospital is celebrating after being shortlisted for a national award.
John Osborne, from Hartlepool, has reached the final three of a competition to find the Swinton’s Taxi Division Cabbie of the Year 2012.
The 44-year-old has expressed his surprise after being nominated for this year’s award by his daughter Rebecca, 20.
The competition is being run by Swinton, the UK’s largest high street insurance retailer.
Organisers say they chose John to be in the final three for his “heartfelt dedication” to his customers.
For the past four years, John has given up Christmas Day with his partner Christine Younger, 41, and their four children, Rebecca, Chelsea, 18, Joe, 15, and 10-year-old Sam, to take people to visit their relatives in hospital free of charge.
He volunteered to take town residents through to the University Hospital of Hartlepool, James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough and the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.
Self-employed John, who has been a taxi driver for 18 years, said: “It was such a shock at first when my daughter told me about the nomination.
“It is nice to be recognised and hopefully my work will encourage my children to want to help others themselves.
“It’s great to be nominated, and I’m really looking forward to the awards.
“My family can’t wait to enjoy the day with me.”
On Christmas Day itself, the only job John received was to take a family up to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle, but his generosity saved the family a £140 return fee.
John, of Stockton Road, has already said he is willing to offer his services free of charge this year too.
He has also encouraged local cabbies to get into the charity spirit, by joining him to offer customers’ journeys in exchange for donations to the Hartlepool & District Hospice.
Alex Cooke, of Swinton Taxi Division, said: “John was exactly what we were looking for in our ‘Cabbie of the Year’ finalists.”
If he wins he will receive a cheque for £1,000 and drive away with a year’s free taxi insurance.
Second place wins £500, and £250 for third.
John will be attending the Private Hire and Taxi Monthly Exhibition on Wednesday, May 30, where he will find out if he has been successful.
He was first inspired to offer the free taxi ride after his son Joe, who was 12 at the time, broke his arm in 2008 and he was taken to the Stockton hospital.
The youngster was kept in hospital and the daily commutes back and forth to hospital inspired the idea of providing free Christmas Day travel.