Platform Rail has honoured the memory of one of its founding steering group members, William Whiting, by designing a celebration day that pulled together his passions: education, theatre, and, of course, trains.
On Tuesday 5 December, 55 students from Great Malvern Primary School met members of the Platform Rail team at Great Malvern Station to join a GWR service to Worcester Foregate Street. The pupils had already taken part in a rail safety workshop in school two weeks before, and they all demonstrated what they learnt by being sensible, confident, and safe on the train and platform.
On arrival in Worcester, the team took the students to the Swan Theatre to see a performance of Jack and the Beanstalk. At the end of the show, the group made their way to The Pod at Crowngate Shopping Centre to have lunch, hot chocolates, and a Christmas sing-along, which attracted one very special guest – Santa! He joined the group just in time to distribute presents to all before they made the return journey by train back to school.
Laura Passey, Year 2 teacher at Great Malvern Primary School, said: “When Emilie came into our school to explain rail safety to the children, she was engaging, and the children were able to retain the key facts. They had the best time, and seeing Santa and receiving presents was a great tough – thank you!”
Jess Whiting, William Whiting’s daughter, said: “It was wonderful to be part of Platform Rail’s tribute to my dad. The children were delightful, and I could see how excited they were and how much they enjoyed the day.”
Paul Webster, Support and Development Manager at Community Rail Network (and surrogate Santa!) said: “William helped set up and chaired Worcestershire CRP from its inception in 2019 and was one of the leading voices in setting up the Platform Rail project too.
“He believed in the importance of active and integrated rail travel and in encouraging young travellers to learn about the benefits of travelling by train. I was honoured to be able to take part in this special day for the school as a tribute to William and to support the incredible work and enthusiasm of the whole team at Platform who made it all happen.”
Emilie Dawson, Learning Development Manager at Platform Rail, said: “I can’t thank everyone involved enough: William’s family and friends for the donations, the incredible staff and students from the school, and the Crowngate Shopping Centre and Worcester Civic Society for free use of The Pod. Huge thanks also go to Heather Cullimore from Severnside CRP, Ann Jenner from GWR, Paul Webster (Santa!) from Community Rail Network, and my phenomenal delivery team for making the day happen.
“William is so often in our thoughts, and always in our hearts, and it was so special to be able to deliver a day like this in his memory – he would have loved it.”
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