Wrabness station adopter recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Julia Prigg, Wrabness station adopter and all-round community ‘legend’, has been recognised for her years of dedication and service in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Julia, 84, has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for ‘services to community rail’ for her care of Wrabness Station’s garden, transforming it from a neglected village eyesore into a wildlife haven and community garden that is used by residents and schoolchildren for a host of community activities.

Julia is a member of Greater Anglia’s station adoption scheme, which sees volunteers working with the train operator to improve their local stations.

Greater Anglia’s customer and community engagement manager, Alan Neville, said, “We are over the moon to hear that Julia has received an honour. It is very well-deserved and we are extremely proud of her, and so grateful for her unwavering energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to the community and its station garden.”

Julia lives over the road from Wrabness Station in Essex and became a station adopter because her own house has only a small courtyard garden, so it was a way to continue her love of gardening.

She also loves the social aspect of being in the station garden as there are always so many visitors – either people getting off the train to go walking in the area, children coming to play on the pretend railway that runs through the garden, or people who come to just sit in the garden and enjoy the refreshments they’ve bought in the community shop.

Julia works with two local schoolchildren who are helping her in the garden to work towards their Duke of Edinburgh Award, and with a group of volunteer students who attend a school for people with particular needs who attend weekly gardening sessions.

She has now tended the garden for over a decade and worked in it with local schoolchildren to create wildlife homes and pottery. As a keen environmentalist, she also created a wildflower garden in the lower station area. This led her to receive the Personal Contribution Award at Greater Anglia’s Station Adoption Awards in 2019.

Julia has been described as a ‘true legend for Wrabness’ for her involvement in and enthusiasm for village life, her community and its residents, and her decade-long commitment to transforming the once neglected station garden, ensuring it remains beautiful and welcoming.

Terri Ryland, community rail partnership officer for the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership, said of Julia: “She is constantly moving, always enhancing the station garden, ensuring it looks perfect for everyone to enjoy, from local residents to tourists from afar, often working from dawn until dusk – sometimes even with a torch!

“She has a permanent smile on her face, is always there with a cup of tea and offers a warm welcome to all visitors in the station garden and points out the plants, birds, and insects to children.”

“Julia gets involved in other community rail events, helps on our event trains, leads some of our guided walks, and is an excellent advocate for community rail who is keen for everyone to play a part in the station garden. She is a true legend for Wrabness and I am delighted that she has been recognised at the highest level for her commitment to the station and the community.”

Additional station adopters are wanted for Wrabness Station to support Julia in the ongoing care and maintenance of the station garden. Anyone interested should contact Alan.Neville@greateranglia.co.uk

For more information on the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership, visit their website here.