What do nine students part way through degrees at northern universities including York, Manchester and Leeds and studying subjects such as Business Management, English, Psychology, Environmental Science, Mathematics or Aerospace Engineering have in common? The nine are approaching the end of a year-long placement with Northern as ‘Year in Industry’ students. The students; Elliot Bateson, Molly Baulcombe, Cora Hayne, Isabelle Holgate, Sophie Lambert, Dominic Martin, Matt Rayson, Jemimah Smith and Sarah Stevenette, have been located in various parts of the rail operator’s business, but came together for a community project with the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership (LMCRP), on the Bentham Line.
This is the third year of the Leeds Morecambe CRP‘s arrangement with Northern to provide an insight into the world of community rail and support the students through a community project. On Friday 25th June 2021 the students physically met up for only the second time, during their placement, due to the pandemic restrictions in place for most of the past year. This was at the Heritage Centre at Carnforth Station, where they proudly presented the results of their collaborative endeavours.
The students prepared nine station information panels under their chosen theme, ‘Get Nature Back on Track’, which also reflected their keen interest in important ‘green energy’ and sustainability ideas. Topics for the panels included climate change, waste management, water management, recycling, air pollution and renewable energy. The project has been also supported by the Forest of Bowland AONB and this is echoed in the panels on reforestation, biodiversity and wild flowers. In addition a short animation has been created based around ‘Ed the Environmental Eagle’, a character who appears on all the panels.
The students felt that it was good to have this interaction with each other and said, “it has been a great learning experience” and added, “it has been good working with the LMCRP.”
Matt Rayson, one of the students, who provided the voice for the animation said: “the panels were designed to be informative and educational and we tried to ensure that the messages conveyed were suitable for all ages. However, the animation with its main character Ed was designed to appeal to young children.”
Brian Haworth, one of the Bentham Line’s community rail officers, who has been working alongside the students, thanked them for all their hard work: “the group worked extremely well together despite not being able to meet in person throughout the year; a great team effort!”
In welcoming this year’s students and three of the previous years students, as well as representatives from Northern, the Community Rail Network, local rail user groups and members of the LMCRP, to the exhibition, Gerald Townson, chair of the LMCRP, said, “it has been a great pleasure to work with these young people over the past year.” “At this challenging time, when so much is being undertaken remotely and online, the students have demonstrated that it is still possible to work well together to generate positive results, for the benefit of communities.”
Gerald presented each of this year’s students with a certificate to acknowledge their work with the partnership and a poster copy of their final panel design. In response, Sarah Stevenette, on behalf of the students, thanked the CRP for its support of the group during the year and for arranging the viewing of their work.
Chris Leggett for Northern was complimentary about : “The LMCRP placement is a highlight for the Year in Industry students at Northern; their tangible effort has achieved a great deal. It has been a great time connecting with the local communities despite it being peculiar circumstances this year.”
Local professional artist, Alastair Nicholson, who worked tirelessly with the students to create the illustrations and animation, commented: “It was a steep learning experience, as I had to tackle the digital systems for the artwork and develop new ways of working, but it was all worthwhile and I have been impressed by all of the students. I am very pleased and proud to have participated in this project and I hope the students feel the same.”
Ian Davis on behalf of Community Rail Network, added: “This is an absolutely amazing display. I would like to congratulate everyone involved for their commitment, determination and talent which shines out through the exhibition and the animation.”
The large ‘Get Nature Back on Track’ panels will shortly go on display at stations along the route between Leeds and Morecambe. The poster exhibition of all the panels will also appear at venues on or near the line over the coming months, beginning at Carnforth Heritage Centre. Details of the project can also be found on the Bentham Line website.