Our rail route connects a series of vibrant communities across five regional boundaries, almost all of whom are involved in one way or another in supporting, enhancing and promoting their local railway. Over 15 years we have gradually built up a family of over a hundred people who voluntarily give part of their busy lives to creating a better experience of the Heart of Wessex line and its stations. In doing so, they make an enormous contribution both to their own communities and to visitors from all over the world who choose to visit our destinations by train. Local independent businesses and events organisers have also worked with us to encourage more people to visit by train, and the partnership enjoys great support from many of the Parish and Town Councils along the route. Improvements to stations, access and information initiated by communities themselves are supported by our Community Projects Grant Fund.
Friends of Freshford
The glorious gardens at Freshford are the work of around twenty volunteers, under the guidance of garden designer Melanie Everard. There is widespread support for the station from the whole community, and amongst their initiatives has been the recovery, restoration and reinstallation of the station’s original Victorian and Edwardian Running In Boards.
Friends of Dorchester West
Wally Gundry and his team are at the station every week, and since 2010 have utterly transformed this unstaffed station into a welcoming, clean and flowery space. Their enthusiasm, talent and dedication is an astonishing gift to the railway and its customers. From left to right Jeff, Wally, Ros, Sue, Barry, Colin & Terry.
The Task Force at Work
Friends from all along the line come together to tackle larger tasks. Here, supporters from Weymouth, Upwey, Dorchester, Castle Cary, Bruton, Bradford on Avon and Bristol came to help the Friends of Trowbridge to clear vegetation and rubbish from the car park areas, coordinated by our GWR station manager and with special support from Network Rail friends, who generously donated some of the volunteer leave days to help us.
Friends of Upwey & Timothy
The Friends with the family of Timothy, with his memorial planter in which a beautiful rose bush now thrives. Timothy will now always be part of the station at which he loved to watch the trains go by with his mother. The team, led by Terry Putnam, is at the station several times a week, making it a place the community can feel proud of.
In a Safe Manor at Bruton
Station Manager, Nick Reid, gives a safety update briefing to the Friends of Bruton Railway Station. This group, founded over 20 years ago, have been a model for many other station adoptions. In addition to their glorious gardens, they created a visitor welcome map at the station exit, Nick Scott’s excellent “Insiders’ Guide” website makes it easy to understand all the local rail and bus services, and Howard Smith is the guiding spirit for our joint Task Forces.
How to Look Good in Hi Vis
The ladies from the Bradford on Avon Garden Gang demonstrate the “Parisienne Haute Vis” look, attracting the paparazzi from the Friends of Bruton and Upwey stations
Station Friends’ Running In board
At Maiden Newton, a team of four people look after the much admired station gardens, and are supported by neighbouring businesses who also help to keep the station surroundings neat and attractive. The running in board, funded by the partnership, was created by Rydon Signs. Several stations now have these, & in addition to looking attractive they help customers, including those with visual, hearing or learning difficulties, to identify the station they have arrived at.
Ann & the Wessex Wanderers
Free guided walks from our stations are run by a wonderful group of voluntary experts from the Ramblers’ Association, coordinated by Ann Light. The walks are the fruit of over 1400 hours’ hard work over 12 months, including some heavy foot slogging in early spring to distribute the programmes
Sue and Nick
With Nick Reid, GWR Station Manager at Westbury is Sue Blake, who was awarded the British Empire Medal for outstanding contributions to the community. Like all who voluntarily give time to this railway, she devotes her talent and energy to several local causes. We feel extremely lucky to be one of them