A Buxton ‘community rail’ group has won three coveted national awards for their innovative work engaging the community with their local railway station, including adapting to the challenges of the pandemic.
The Friends of Buxton Station fought off strong competition to be named joint winners of the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Community Rail’ prize at the 17th national Community Rail Awards, sharing the accolade with Southeast Communities Rail Partnership. The group also won the Station Friends and Adopters at the Heart of Communities award, took second place in the Community Creative Projects and Station Arts category, and saw their chair, Dave Carlisle, pick up the award for Outstanding Volunteer Contribution.
Over the past year, the group have risen to the challenges of the pandemic, supporting the wider community and local environment, while maintaining positivity about the station and railway. Working with a host of partners, including voluntary groups, independent traders, educators and local government, their diverse range of activities have cemented their place at the heart of their community.
Their activities have included: leading a conservation project to protect the rare and endangered local Bilberry bumblebee; devising the ‘Rail Retail Trail’ to support small businesses and economic recovery from the pandemic; running the ‘Mini-Saga Challenge’ writing competition to improve mental health by encouraging people to share memories of rail travel; and supporting and mentoring a new station friends’ group at Dove Holes.
In June this year, the group were honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award volunteers can receive in the UK.
FoBS Chairman, Dave Carlisle said: “Our community volunteers not only kept working during early covid-19 restrictions, but stepped up and focused upon other areas where we could help. I’m so proud that our efforts have been recognised in this way and humbled that my role in making things happen was acknowledged.”
The Community Rail Awards, organised by Community Rail Network, recognise the important, often unsung, work by community rail partnerships, station friends, and other community rail groups across Britain. They shine a light on vital projects across this growing grassroots movement, highlighting community rail’s contribution to sustainable mobility, social inclusion, community development, and wellbeing.
This year held at Southampton’s O2 Guildhall and streamed online, the awards were attended by more than 300 guests, including community rail volunteers, officers, rail industry and government representatives.
The event was addressed by transport ministers from UK, Welsh and Scottish Governments, including Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris MP, plus industry leaders and personalities passionate about community rail, including Chris Tarrant.
Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, said: “Our hearty congratulations go to all the volunteers who make up the Friends of Buxton Station, and their chair Dave Carlisle – their outstanding work has cemented the group’s, and the station’s, place at the heart of the community. Their positivity and adaptability throughout the pandemic has been inspirational, and I think it’s fair to say they are the essence of what community rail is all about: creative, dedicated, grounded in the community, and using the railway and station to bring about as much public good as possible.
“The Community Rail Awards recognise the achievements and passion of community rail volunteers, groups and partnerships across Britain. Their tireless efforts connect local people with their railways and stations, bring communities together, and enable more people to access sustainable, inclusive travel.”
Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “Our railway offers a vital lifeline for local communities across the UK who depend on it for access to jobs and opportunities, to connect with friends and families, and experience everything the UK has to offer.
“These awards recognise those community rail partners and volunteers that go above and beyond, making a real difference to those that use our rail network, as well as neighbouring communities. I’d like to extend my heartfelt congratulations and gratitude to this year’s winners and finalists for all their work.”
Details of all 2021 award winners and more information on the event can be found on the Community Rail Network website here.