The Duke of Gloucester was in Shropshire this week, and one of his tasks was to present long service awards to members of the Severn Valley Railway. The Prince travelled on the Severn Valley Railway from Kidderminster to the Engine Shed at Highley where twenty-one members who were due to receive their awards together with other SVR staff were gathered. The twenty-one staff had amassed a total of over a thousand years of service between them, and each received their award directly from Prince Richard. It was then, much to his surprise, his turn as he was presented with a twenty-year award to mark the time since 1997 that he had been the patron and a picture of the steam locomotive “Duke of Gloucester” from a time when it too visited the Severn Valley Railway.
Before they received their awards, they were addressed by the SVR Chairman, David Williams: “You started working at the railway when it was completely a voluntary organisation. Today, the railway is a successful blend of volunteers and paid staff. The railway could not be run without its huge volunteer force of nearly 1,800 members. It wouldn’t be viable without volunteers so can I take this opportunity to thank you all.”
The Duke also acknowledged the work they had done and was pleased that some of them had been there since the very beginning in 1966. He said: “It’s very special that so many of you are still here after 50 years. I suspect a lot of you already knew a lot about railways when you joined. Together we’ve maintained the railway, maintained the buildings, collected the engines. It looks like the next generation is going to carry on from strength to strength, so I congratulate all of you. “
In fact, for two of the volunteers who have worked for many years for SVR, their meeting resulted in a very unique kind of train, as they got married. Jack and Denise Bond met after both started volunteering and have now been married forty-six years.
This was the second time in recent years the Prince has been at the Railway he also helped celebrate their Golden Jubilee in September 2015.