Although FOGS had not entered any categories this year the event was an ideal opportunity to see what had been happening around the UK in terms of Community Rail. And a lot had been going on! The meal was lovely and on Neil’s table were representatives from Skegness, Patricoft, Hindley, Dronfield, Derwent Valley CRP and Heaton Chapel and, on the next table nearby, were our friends from Whaley Bridge plus Pam Williams, Buxton line Manager and Stephen Sharp the Booking officer at Whaley Bridge. Awards were well spread across the UK. Northern had good results from Bentham, Huncoat and the Mid Cheshire line. Well done to Sally Buttifant for her Mid Cheshire Walks’ booklets. Special congratulations from FOGS to Gerald Townson, placed 1st in the Outstanding Volunteer section. Neil had met Gerald earlier in the year at a DfT meeting in London and had been very impressed by Gerald’s humour and commitment to work at Bentham – on the Morecambe to Leeds line. Well done too to Sylvia from Leighton Buzzard for her 2nd Place photo award. Sylvia is an inspiration for her work at Leighton Buzzard!
Despite having an entry relating to their splendidly restored waiting room Whaley Bridge did not unfortunately receive a placing - Frodsham taking first place in this section. However, Stephen from Whaley Bridge Booking office deservedly got a 3rd place in the Passengers Matter section. The evening offered lots of opportunities for Neil to catch up with rail friends from around the UK. He was especially pleased to have a couple of conversations with Alex Hynes, Northern’s new MD. Neil was also able to thank Don Jary and Lee Wasnidge for an excellent Stakeholder event at Bury two weeks previously. Neil was pleased to see Mark Barker at the dinner too!
Mark had retired earlier this year from Northern but, at Lee’s behest, has returned to work two days a week for Northern. We welcome Mark back! Neil was able to have a good chat with John Yellowlees First ScotRail’s Community Director. John kindly described Glossop to his guests from Largs as the Wemyss Bay station in Derbyshire!
Mike Franklin from Network Rail was present and Neil thanked him for his ongoing commitment to FOGS’ work on the Station Embankment garden. With an ironic sense of timing the next session was due on the Sunday of this weekend necessitating Neil’s departure on Saturday for his once a month 06.00 works’ date at Glossop station! The overall winner of the Community Rail strategy for 2013 was Abellio one of Northern’s parent companies. An excellent evening and we thank ACoRP for highlighting and rewarding the efforts made by so many people at their stations around the UK.
On Saturday a special train, known affectionately as “The Gerald”, left Llandudno for the Conwy Valley and Blaenau Ffestiniog. The train Arriva Trains Wales’ pride and joy – normally the Class 67 loco hauled service Holyhead to Cardiff Mondays/Fridays - made a splendid sight as it left Llandudno station with its many guests! Look out for Paul Bigland’s photos in the rail press!