On Wednesday 19 October, South Western Railway (SWR) hosted the ‘Stations In Bloom’ awards, which recognised staff and volunteers for their work nurturing stations across the railway network into neighbourhood hubs and havens for nature.
Based on the guiding principles of community involvement, sustainability, and horticultural prowess, the event was culmination of a summer of judging which considered floral displays, the range of activities by volunteers, positive environmental impact, community engagement with schools and other local groups, and coordination with onward transport links.
‘Stations In Bloom’ is based on the competition run by the Royal Horticultural Society. It was organised by Blackmore Vale Line Community Rail Partnership, which has been helping to spotlight the great work of station volunteers and railway staff since its inception in 2016. All the stations that were judged were commended in some way for their contributions to the betterment of the railway.
Community rail partnerships and station adoption groups across the SWR network work alongside SWR staff to bring stations back into the heart of the community, and to encourage communities to use their stations not just as means for travel, but as local focal points and shared assets.
The ‘Stations in Bloom’ awards ceremony (held at Castle Gardens in Sherborne and sponsored by The Gardens Group) follows the recent SWR ‘Big Bulb Plant Out’, during which staff and volunteers planted over 17,000 bulbs at 35 locations across the operator’s network as part of National Customer Service Week. Locations for the mass planting included West Byfleet, Horsley and Effingham Junction, Alton, Brookwood, Wool, Winchester, and more.
The daffodils, tulips, crocuses, and other flowers will breathe new and colourful life into stations when they begin to bloom in the springtime next year, helping to make the SWR network more welcoming and enjoyable for customers.
They will also enhance the biodiversity of the network in line with SWR’s commitment to improve sustainability, providing new havens for bees, butterflies, and other insects and species to thrive and support the local natural environment.
Paula Aldridge, Community Rail Manager for South Western Railway, commented:
“It is wonderful to see so many of our station adopters, colleagues and volunteers coming together to create a pleasant environment for our customers. The awards are a fantastic way to celebrate the work that they do all year round, and I am extremely proud of all their dedication.”