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This year, Blythe Bridge station volunteers are celebrating five years of service as ‘station adopters’ helping to improve their local station for passengers.
To mark the occasion they will be unveiling a new North Staffordshire Line ‘Station Volunteer T-Shirt’, which has been provided by the Community Rail Partnership for the many hardworking volunteers along the route as a special thank you for their invaluable support.
Since 2007, original volunteers, local residents Austin Hannaby, Mick Johnson, Chris Snape and husband and wife team Graham and Norah Stanier, have worked on a number of gardening projects on the platforms and in the station car park. Helped more recently by newer members Howard Salt and Becky Johnson (Graham and Norah’s grand-daughter), they’ve really transformed the station environment to help create an award-winning station.
Using funds raised by the Community Rail Partnership, the volunteers have given their time to clear, weed, design, plant and maintain all the green areas of the station. Community Rail Officer Faye Lambert said: “The Blythe Bridge ‘Famous Five’ were our first official station adopters on the Crewe-Derby route so who better to unveil the new station volunteer ‘uniform’, especially in their fifth anniversary year.
“I can’t praise this brilliant team enough. Instead of beds of weeds, the station now has pretty, colourful gardens and planters, which make the station more welcoming and have added so much value to the improved waiting and information facilities delivered through our projects rolled out with train operator East Midlands Trains.”
But the volunteers’ support isn’t just of the green-fingered variety. They also help keep the station clean and tidy and report in any faults to ensure speedy maintenance. Also, through the involvement of Forsbrook Parish Council, which leads the adoption project at Blythe Bridge, additional local support has been secured. Faye concluded: “The Parish Council have funded planters and plants as well as securing donations from the local Rotary Club and even worked with Forsbrook Primary School to create artwork to decorate the station. As one of the station adopters, the Council has taken the station to its heart and helped us to make it a real part of the community.”
The new Station Volunteer T-shirts for all North Staffordshire Line volunteers were sponsored by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) Small Grants Fund.
Station volunteer Chris Snape, said: "I became involved as a volunteer through my employment as clerk to Forsbrook Parish Council and what a positive experience it has been. We work as a team and the pleasure we get from improving what was a sad, unloved station is immeasurable, especially when passengers comment on the difference; it gives us a real buzz. The support of the Partnership and East Midlands Trains has played a big part in making volunteering such an enjoyable and satisfying activity.”
Jonny Wiseman, Route Manager for East Midlands Trains, said: "We really are filled with gratitude for everything this team of volunteers has done to help us turn Blythe Bridge into a welcoming station for our passengers. The station now has a real community feel, which is all down to the hard work that the volunteers put in week in, week out. We're grateful to have them on board the East Midlands Trains team."
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