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Tyne Valley CRP hosts first ever volunteer conference

Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership (TVCRP) has held its inaugural volunteer conference, encouraging the sharing of ideas and best practice among groups working along the line.

The event brought together station adopters with representatives from Northern, the TVCRP board, students and staff from the Rail Academy, and Community Rail Cumbria.

The day began with a keynote address from Kerry Peters, NE regional director for Northern, who commented on the impressive work of the volunteers at all the stations on the line, which runs from Newcastle to Carlisle. There were then presentations from six station groups, including:

  • Corbridge – where various local groups have worked together to promote the railway station, the village, and the Roman Fort;
  • Blaydon – where the promotion of the station on social media has led to a 50% rise in passenger use over the past two years;
  • Haltwhistle – in which TVCRP vice-chair Julie Gibbon gave an update on the major refurbishment work at the station, and also presented on the HISS (Haltwhistle Is Something Special) project, a group of volunteers who are researching the special stories of Haltwhistle and who have created an exhibition for one of the newly refurbished waiting rooms.

Attendees also heard from Anne Ridley, TVCRP’s marketing director, on the need to encourage more people to leave their cars at home and explore the Tyne Valley by train, Allan White, TVCRP’s director for infrastructure, on the partnership’s recent Station Review, and TVCRP officer Fiona Forsythe, who outlined plans for the former Hexham Kiosk to become a pop-up venue available for hire by local groups.

The conference concluded with “Bring Back to the Shore”, a session highlighting the issue of suicide on the railway, and a presentation by the engineering students of the Rail Academy, who spoke about the role of the college and the courses it offers.

Feedback from delegates was very positive, with one describing the event as a “great day, with great people and a sense of belonging,” and there are plans for the conference to become an annual event.

Malcolm Chainey, chair of TVCRP, said: “We planned this event a long time ago, to help bring our communities together and allow station adoption groups to get to know each other, but it’s only now that we’ve been able hold it. The day was a great success, with representatives from 13 of our 14 stations present, along with members of the CRP board. As well as station adoption activities, attendees heard about some CRP projects, its work on education and young people, and a brief introduction to suicide prevention.

Marie Addison, from Northern, added: “It was fantastic, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole day. It was so lovely to see everyone face to face again. I personally felt ever so proud of all the work, dedication, and effort by all our volunteers. I am truly humbled and appreciative of you all.”

Earlier in the month, adopters along the line also took part in the Great British Spring Clean, tidying stations and their surrounding areas. One of the groups to rise to the occasion were the Friends of Blaydon Station (pictured), who collected five full bags of rubbish in just 45 minutes. A top effort!

Find out more about the work of Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership here.