Braintree station is blooming lovely thanks to volunteer

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Braintree station looks blooming lovely thanks to a partnership between the community and the railway.

The station has received a makeover thanks to its new ‘station adopter’, Gary Miller, who – in under a year – has completely transformed the station in partnership with the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership and train operator, Greater Anglia.

Twelve planters now adorn the station platforms, thanks to over £1,000 worth of funding from the Community Rail Partnership, and another four are welcoming station users on the forecourt.

Gary combines his love of horticulture – inherited from his father who helped him hone his skills on their allotment where Gary grew and exhibited vegetables and flowers – with his background in chemical analysis, which has given him expert knowledge of what is needed for plants to thrive.

His dedication to the station’s flower displays, along with constant watering and dead heading, has resulted in impressive displays of summer plants that create a warm welcome to the station.

Jayne Summer, Community Rail Partnership Officer, said, “We advertised for a station adopter at Braintree station and were delighted when Gary stepped forward as he is very knowledgeable, enthusiastic and community-focused.

“We meet with him regularly to offer support and always learn something new about gardening in the process.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Gary to help enhance the station for the benefit of the whole community and encourage more people to use their local rail station.”

Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, Alan Neville, said, “It’s amazing what Gary has achieved in under a year and the station looks lovely as a result.

“We are very grateful for his commitment and enthusiasm and the ongoing work of the Community Rail Partnership that has really transformed Braintree station and provides a warm welcome to anyone visiting the town by train.”

Greater Anglia’s Station Adoption scheme enables individuals or groups to adopt their local railway station and contribute to its presentation and welfare for the benefit of the local community.

The voluntary scheme was originally created to improve lines of communication between the train operator and station users however, over the years it has grown to become much more, with station adopters now playing an active role in keeping stations looking good through inventive gardening projects, creative community art projects, taking part in station ‘health checks’ or being the eyes and ears of their station.

Over the years, station adopters have also played a key role in raising money for new initiatives, such as improved waiting facilities or planting beautiful station gardens.