Stephen Woodham has sold his independent Huntingdonshire company Steve’s Taxis to Veezu Group after 46 years in business. Here, he speaks to Ben Jolley about celebrity customers, charity fundraising, his plans for the future and where it all began. 

"I started at probably the worst time," he says, recalling his first taxi run in January 1977... "who starts taxi-ing just after Christmas?" 

Back then, he said his first fare was 50 pence. In the first week, he made £12, then £20 the second week.

As business grew, he took on a base at Alconbury, then had a taxi stand at Huntingdon, St Ives,  Ramsey, St Neots and one at March.

Over the years, Steve said the company had several "rewarding" contracts, including 30/40 cars transporting disabled children to schools.

The Hunts Post: Left to right: hospital CEO Caroline Walker, owner of Steve's Taxis Stephen Woodham and chief nurse Jo Bennis.Left to right: hospital CEO Caroline Walker, owner of Steve's Taxis Stephen Woodham and chief nurse Jo Bennis. (Image: Newsquest)

Other partnerships included with Hinchingbrooke Hospital, HMP Littlehey "from the minute it was built" and moving machinery for Papworth Hospital.

Steve's Taxi's has also had its fair share of celebrity customers, including Ruth Maddock who lived in Sawtry then moved to Huntingdon, Sid Owen who lived in Alconbury Weston and The Mitchells from EastEnders - one of whom lived in St Neots several years ago.

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The company has also raised funds for several charities: "we did the Live Aid appeal many years ago where, for the whole day, every taxi fair we did went to them. That raised over £4,000.

Steve Taxi's has also donated money to Blind Dogs, towards the annual Christmas party for elderly people in Huntingdon, sponsorship for the boxing club in Huntingdon, numerous children’s football teams, and the bowling clubs in Sawtry and Huntingdon.

The Hunts Post: One of the first Steve's Taxis carsOne of the first Steve's Taxis cars (Image: Steve's Taxis)

More recently, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Steve's Taxis donated 10p for every journey its drivers made to support the NHS at Hinchingbrooke Hospital. This resulted in more than £20,000 being raised. 

Many of Steve's long-term staff members are still with the company, including Sue Fielding, Angie Brighton and Alan Howlett, all of whom have been with him for 35/40 years.

“I just like dealing with people," Steve replied when asked what he loved most about his job. 

RECOMMENDED READING: Steve's Taxis donates over £20,000 to Hinchingbrooke Hospital

However, after 46 years in the taxi industry, Steve has decided that "it's time for me to expand properly into something else", having also been working in car sales for 25 years, and had garages for nearly as long as taxi-ing - first at Sawtry, second at Wood Walton, then at Huntingdon, and then at Stukeley.

The Hunts Post: One of the first Steve’s Taxis drivers with her children.One of the first Steve’s Taxis drivers with her children. (Image: Steve's Taxis)

“It’s been interesting, but it’s difficult to run garages, car sales and taxis; we had 160 people working," he added. 

“I want to focus on the car sales business and let young people take over on the taxi side of things,” he said.

Reflecting on changes in the taxi industry, he said "from 1977 to 2018 it was all ok - and then it started to change. 

“It's not like it used to be, when you would know about the customer’s life as they would keep coming back.” 

The Hunts Post: Steve's Taxis donating a cheque to Hinchingbrooke HospitalSteve's Taxis donating a cheque to Hinchingbrooke Hospital (Image: Steve's Taxis)

Looking to the future, Steve said: "Having sold the taxis, I can now build my car sales up and plan to have over 120 cars of all sorts available on the forecourt in Alconbury.

“My MOT garage at Little Stukeley provides both MOT testing and customer repairs.

“I would like to thank all the customers and staff for supporting us through all these years and look forward to welcoming you at my garages.”