2,522 miles later, ‘hero’ taxi driver arrives from Benidorm to Belfast with injured friend Jim Moore
Phil Hamilton was once an ordinary taxi driver in a suburb of Belfast – now people press him for selfies, stop his wife in the supermarket and call him a hero.
All because of one quiet deed gone viral.
It is the story of how the 43-year-old driver for Taxis 365 embarked upon the longest journey of his life – six countries, 2,522 miles – to help a friend in need.
Newtonabbey man Jim Moore, 58, sent shockwaves through County Antrim when he went missing in Benidorm on Friday, 11pm, November 15.
Shock turned to desperation as no news of Jim arrived for 72 hours – until a Spanish nurse contacted a friend via an appeal on the Benidorm community Facebook page.
It turned out Jim had slipped on the stairs to the Acuarium II hotel complex, received staples in his head, and was placed in an induced coma in Vila Joiosa hospital.
But relief was not yet at hand, as when Jim came round Spanish doctors ordered he not fly for THREE MONTHS due to cabin pressure on his injuries.
“They were very worrying times – we were absolutely ecstatic when we found out he was in hospital,” Phil told Benidorm Reviews from Newtonabbey.
“Phil 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 can’t fly for three months we said jokingly about sending a taxi to Benidorm.
“I said ‘that’s the way to do it, all we need is a driver’, and then all eyes were suddenly on me.
“How could I turn around and say no?”
A 365 Taxis Facebook post of the news broke records, winning 6k likes, 1.7k shares and not a single negative comment.
From there, the news spread into national headlines both in Britain and abroad.
And as of Saturday morning – a whopping nine days, 82 driving hours and a taxi metre reading £4,300 later – Jim was safely home.
“365 Taxis agreed to cover all the costs, it was a lovely gesture from our directors,” Phil said.
“The response from the public has been unbelievable.
“Our company’s been inundated with media calling in, people even brought presents into the office and we’ve 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, C&C Motorparts in Newtonabbey offered a free service and check over and last night a local Indian restaurant gave us a complementary meal – it’s unbelievable.
“The story has given people hope. We might fight amongst 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 turn out pretty bad – and this had a happy ending.”
Phil was quick to praise everyone involved, especially Katie Dell and Dave McQueen from the Benidorm community Facebook page for reaching the hospital nurse.
Also to thank were Wilma and John from the Ibrox bar, the people from Tracey’s Place, and 365 Taxi manager Debbie Patterson – though Phil added there were ‘countless more’.
He said the story demonstrated the power of social media, restoring the ‘faith in humanity’ for all involved.
Jim has likewise made a ‘rapid recovery’ and is safely at home with his family.
“It’s definitely the longest journey I’ve ever done,” Phil told Benidorm Reviews.
“I can’t wait for a customer to ask me ‘what’s been the biggest trip you’ve done’ and I turn around and say it was Newtonabbey to Benidorm.
“It’s a fantastic anecdote.”
Despite the good cheer, Phil was adamant to mention there are ‘more missing people out there’.
He urged readers to keep looking for Philip Pearce who has been missing in Benidorm since mid-September.
He said he was planning to use his new found fame to support Philip’s sons, Lee and Wayne, as they continue to find answers about their beloved father.
READ MORE HERE: https://www.benidormreviews.com/taxi-fare-scotland-to-benidorm-fundraiser/
Katie Dell of Benidorm Reviews said: “Myself and Dave McQueen went to meet Phil and his family when they arrived in Benidorm.
“Dave bought the drinks and we had a good chat about how the community page pulled together and helped them in finding Jim.
“Phil expressed his gratitude for the help in finding Jim and how helpful everyone was during the whole situation.
“The discussion then went on to how they could help raise awareness to find still missing Philip Pearce with the Publicity from this.
“I had already set up a go fund me page with the help of Dave from Alicante Transfers and Phil from 365 taxis with the angle of guess the metre.
“Both guys worked hard in sharing the post and it’s raised nearly half the £1000 target. The money will be used to raise awareness help find with finding Philip Pearce.”
LINK TO FUNDRAISER: https://www.gofundme.com/f/guess-the-taxi-fare-scotland-benidorm-fundraiser