Volunteering is celebrated in Premier Regional Awards Ceremony at Castle Gardens in Sherborne

100 volunteers from across Southern and South West England enjoy celebrations and afternoon tea
Host Derek Beer Chairman of Blackmore Vale Line CRP, Louise Burks Director of the Gardent Group, event sponsor, and Claire Mann, Managing Director of South Western Railway

A summer full of sunshine and the smiles of willing volunteers from stations across the south west and southern England,  culminated in the first regional awards ceremony hosted and organised by Blackmore Vale Line Community Rail Partnership and sponsored by The Gardens Group and South West Coaches.  More than 100 station volunteers from across the South Western Railway and Great Western Railway region gathered in a specially erected event marquee at Castle Gardens in Sherborne. Guests came from all over the region from London, Petersfield, Winchester, Romsey, Bitterne,  Swaythling,  Salisbury, Yeovil, Wareham, Swanage, Wool, Tisbury,  Crewkerne, Axminster,  Honiton, Dorchester, Maiden Newton, Chetnole, Castle Cary, Bruton and  Frome.  

During the summer months in a series of regional station tours across Dorset, Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire and Hampshire, teams visited more than 30 fabulous stations. On hand to welcome them were the station adopters, volunteers and railway staff who give their time generously to enhancing stations for the benefit of rail users and visitors. The teams were impressed by the breadth and range of volunteering opportunities taking place at the stations ranging from planters and gardens, wildlife areas,  friendship benches,  owl boxes, free shops, heritage centres, baby clothes swap shop and food banks.   Who knew so much was going on at our local stations!

Giving regional prominence to the value of volunteering, and the unique contributions and enhancements made by volunteers and railway staff,  was the central focus of the ‘Stations in Bloom’ campaign and awards ceremony.  Each station volunteer group received a unique award presented by Claire Mann, Managing Director of South Western Railway and a specially curated calendar full of images of the super smiley summer.  Download your PDF Copy here. (when I’ve worked outh ow to do the link!)

Host of the event Derek Beer, Chairman of the Blackmore Vale Line said,

 “What a great honour and a privilege to share an occasion with such dedicated and talented people. The memories that I will take away from visiting so many of the groups is the diversity they bring to each of their projects to fit in with the needs, not just of their stations, but the wider communities too. Everyone at the event I feel benefited, not only from a lovely cream tea, a sense of occasion, and most of all learning from hearing about each other’s projects.

How fortunate we are to have the support of Louise and Castle Gardens, Claire Mann from SWR, and most of all the brilliant leadership and dedication of Caroline Rowland, who pulled it all together.”

Many stations in the Blackmore Vale region were amongst those scooping the top awards: Sherborne, Templecombe, Gillingham, Bruton, Castle Cary, Chetnole, Dorchester Yetminster, Yeovil Pen Mill, Yeovil Junction and Yeovil Railway Centre.

Thanks was given to South West Coaches for sponsoring the bus to and from the station to the venue and Wincanton Print for spsonsoring the printing of volunteer certificates. Huge appreciation was shown for the two people who made this prestigious event possible, Louise and Mike Burks, Directors of The Gardens Group.

If you are interested in learning more about station volunteer opportunities email crp@blackmorevaletrains.com


Caroline Rowland