Ian Davis, Community Rail Support Officer for the Northern region, recently had the opportunity to join one of Avanti West Coast’s Feel Good Field Trips, seeing for himself the positive effects of the project on the pupils involved. Ian shared his experience with us below:
“I took the opportunity to participate on a Feel Good Field Trip to see for myself the work that David Savage of Community Rail Lancashire has developed with principal funding and support from the train operating company Avanti West Coast.
Since the initiative began in 2022, a total of 23 Feel Good Field Trips have been achieved with over 600 pupils aged 5 to 15 years. Pupils that participate in the scheme are given the chance to travel across the West Coast Main Line for hands-on learning and fun, culturally diverse days out. So far, trips have been taken to cities across the nation including Bolton, London, Coventry, Stoke-on-Trent, and Liverpool. 47 Avanti West Coast trains have been used alongside additional rail travel, including the London Underground, Merseyrail and Northern Trains.
I joined a Feel Good Field Trip to Liverpool, comprised of 30 Year 5 children and teachers from the Monks Coppenhall Academy in Crewe. The itinerary on the day included a visit to the Liver Building rooftop and a trip on a ferry across the Mersey, as well as seeing and experiencing city landmarks including Mathew Street.
Around 34% of Monks Coppenhall Academy’s students are classed as Pupil Premium (disadvantaged), and, through the scheme, all three of their Year 5 classes were taken on the trips to Liverpool during March.
David explained to me that feedback from the pupils and teaching staff has been very positive. Many of the pupils who have taken part in the trips have never been on a train before and have had little opportunity to travel out of their hometown, and this was certainly true of the children attending the trip to Liverpool. The scope of rail travel available for the pupils to experience has been a great step forward for many of them in teaching them new skills and providing them with new experiences they may not have normally been able to access.
The Feel Good Field Trips show the great work the rail industry is trying to achieve by enabling children and young people to have positive awareness of rail travel, community rail and rail safety. Working with David and the teachers that day, I certainly believe the newfound experiences for the children will last and encourage future rail travel for them and their families.”