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A day in the life of Station Friends

Community rail is about helping communities get maximum benefit from railways. From boosting
biodiversity with wildlife-friendly gardening at stations, to increasing wellbeing via community group
visits to the Peak District by train, there are many creative ways to do this.

Here we catch up with some of the Station Friends groups in High Peak and Hope Valley, to find out
what they do and why.

What do Station Friends do?

Station Friends are volunteers who give their time to enhance stations and involve their
communities with the railway. There are Friends groups at all 18 stations in High Peak and Hope
Valley. They are independent groups, who receive some support and funding from the CRP and
potentially from other sources as well.

“I started volunteering because I wanted the station to be an asset to my town” says John, Chair of
Friends of Chapel-en-le-Frith Station. “When I look back at the positive changes we have made, I feel
very proud. Since 2008 the group has been working hard, in fact I believe we are the longest
continuously-meeting groups on the Buxton line. Over the years we have transformed several
neglected areas of the station. For example, we’ve made the previously uninspiring area of grass in
front of the car park into a garden, which provides colour and wildlife habitat all year round. We
facilitated the installation of “The Seat with a View”, a bench overlooking the beautiful views Chapel
has to offer, right in front of the station. Now the station feels welcoming”.

Tasks taken on by Station Friends include: litter picking, gardening, painting and cleaning of benches
and fences, keeping signage clean, topping up leaflet dispensers, decorating stations for seasonal
events such as Christmas and Remembrance Day, safety checks and reporting faults, posting on
social media, planning community events, helping to create materials to promote local walks,
working with local artists to create bespoke artwork for the station, providing flower arrangements
in waiting rooms, group admin tasks and being advocates for the railway at local events. Plus much
more – phew!

What is it like to volunteer as a Station Friend?

“It’s a great group to be involved with if you like gardening and having a natter” says Jean, Secretary
of Friends of Disley Station. “We are an active group and there’s a real sense of community when we
get together for our work days at the station.”

“I take pride in seeing the positive ripple effects of our work at the station.” adds Joy, Chair of
Friends of Hadfield Station. “For instance, in 2023 we organised a Bumblebee Safari from Hadfield
Station, in collaboration with Friends of Glossop Station. We look after several pollinator-friendly planters and there is a poster about bumblebees on display on the platform. It was wonderful to see families joining us for a walk to the local park to look for bees, and enjoy a fun activity to learn more about them. I think this kind of event makes a real difference to wildlife and people.”

“It’s so uplifting to see so many volunteers on site and really getting stuck in at our working parties”
says Grahame, Chair of Friends of New Mills Stations. “Everyone makes a huge contribution to the
day’s activities. A massive thank you to all our volunteers.”

How can I get involved with a Friends group?

If you have skills and time to bring, please contact the Partnership by emailing
info@peakdistrictbytrain.org, or sending a message via any of our social media channels: Facebook,
Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok and Threads.

“I feel proud to play my part in encouraging people to visit the Peak District sustainably by train and leave the car at home. If you’re thinking about joining us for some work days, do drop us a line and we’ll be pleased to
welcome you” says Kay, Chair of Friends of Grindleford Station. “We are always looking for new
members of the group. If you have a couple of hours per month to spare and enjoy working with like-
minded people, please get in touch.”

High Peak and Hope Valley CRP would like to thank all their Partners: Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Northern, Transpennine Trains, Cheshire East Council, Derbyshire County Council, High Peak Borough Council, and Peak District National Park. Thanks also to Community Rail Network and Network Rail for their support and Station Friends for their time, expertise and dedication.

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