Many readers will be familiar with the Swindon & Cricklade Railway, Swindon’s very own volunteer run heritage railway based primarily at Blunsdon Station on Tadpole Lane.
The Railway continues to extend, both north and south, and finally, with the opening of the third station at Taw Valley Halt in sight, the Railway is keen to stress that it is desperate for new volunteers to join.
With the opening of the new station, comes the need for more people to sell tickets or be station masters.
For anyone thinking of entering the volunteer sector, the one thing the Railway offers, which many charities are unable to offer, is variety of work available.
There are many ways for people that enjoy meeting and interacting with members of the public to get involved. As train crew, such as guards or ticket inspectors, or station masters. There is also the souvenir shop, which on many running days sells the train tickets.
Currently, the catering department is desperately short of staff at all levels, from management to kitchen staff. The Whistlestop Cafe at Blunsdon station provides a very important service to the railway’s customers, as well as raising funds for the charity.
This is a small cafe, serving typical cafe fare, ranging from small snacks and hot or cold drinks, to breakfasts, light lunches and full meals. The cafe also caters for particular functions on occasions Anyone with catering experience would be welcomed with open arms, though, catering experience is not a necessity.
Adrian Brodie, speaking on behalf of the railway, is keen to stress that a railway background is not necessary. For anyone who enjoys meeting, and interacting with members of the public, or with a desire to join a voluntary organisation, being a volunteer at the railway provides many opportunities to do exactly this in a friendly environment.
The railway is a registered charity, run entirely by volunteers, without whose commitment, the railway would not exist. Virtually anyone could be a volunteer there. Whatever skills a person has, they will translate into worthwhile help.
What sort of traits is the railway looking for in new volunteers? Mostly enthusiasm, with a degree of common sense and a liking to drink tea!
There are two ways a new helper can approach volunteering at the railway. One is to bring existing skills and experience, and use those in a particular role. The second is to visit the railway, see what is available, and try something new. Any training is gladly provided, when required.
And if that does not suit, try something else! There is an enormous variety of positions/roles, many of which have nothing to do with a railway, or railway practice.
For those people that like to get their hands dirty, the railway offers plenty of choice.For example, the Building & Works department covers a multitude of constructional jobs, in most areas of the railway.
The locomotive and/or carriage restorations in the shed at Hayes Knoll both have their own dedicated departments, or there is the Signalling & Telegraph department, for those with a mechanical aptitude.
For lovers of all things transport there are volunteering opportunities as train crew, including drivers, firemen, guards and ticket inspectors, as well as station crew, including station masters.
Outdoor types into heavy engineering could join the “P-way” gang (Permanent Way gang), on the track and associated structures.
There is a long list of possible jobs/roles. Those mentioned above are not exhaustive. Volunteering is a great way to learn new skills and make new friends.
Men and women of all ages and backgrounds are actively involved at the railway, whose mission statement is “Rebuilding Yesterday’s Railway for Tomorrow’s Children”.
Further information about the railway is available on the railway’s website: www.swindon-cricklade-railway.org.
Anyone interested in finding out more about volunteering at the railway should contact Brian Pound (07500 803245, email@example.com) or Pat Scott (01380 816077, firstname.lastname@example.org).
You will be warmly welcomed.