Greater Anglia’s Community Rail Partnerships through to national award finals
Three of Greater Anglia’s Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs) are through to the finals of the national Community Rail Awards.
The awards – held by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships - recognise the important and often unsung work carried out by community rail partnerships, station adopters and community groups, in areas such as station enhancement, community engagement and diversity.
The Essex and South Suffolk CRP is shortlisted for four awards.
Their work with Cobnuts Co-Operative and Wix & Wrabness Primary School is nominated for the ‘Involving Children and Young People’ Award for their project which saw 50 schoolchildren installing pottery homes to help protect the wildlife at Wrabness rail station garden whilst learning about rail safety.
The wildlife houses were also accompanied by a new sculpture, which doubles as a wildlife habitat, designed by Cobnuts Co-operative, a local eco-arts cooperative. The project was also funded by Tesco Bags of Help and Arts Council England.
They are also nominated, along with charity Acorn Village Mistley, for the ‘Involving Diverse Groups Award’. Acorn Village helps adults with learning difficulties live life to the full and, working with the Community Rail Partnership, its members created stunning ‘Murals for Manningtree’ which are now on display at the town’s rail station, and learnt about using the railway and rail safety.
Wrabness station adopter, Julia Prigg, is shortlisted for Outstanding Volunteer Contribution which has seen her transform the station garden and ensure it remains beautiful for almost a decade.
The 81 year old has been described as a ‘true legend for Wrabness’ for her involvement in and enthusiasm for village life, her community and its residents.
Community Rail Partnership Officer Terri Ryland, said: “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 in the station garden from dawn until dusk.
“Julia gets involved in other community rail events, helps on our event trains, is an excellent advocate for community rail and is keen for everyone to play a part in the station garden. She is a true legend for Wrabness.”
“It would be wonderful for Julia and the community of Wrabness for her work and commitment to be recognised.”
The Community Rail Partnership’s work to install 50 solar powered cats eyes to light the walkway to Chappel and Wakes Colne station, improving access to the station for local people, is also shortlisted for Most Enhanced Station Buildings and Surroundings Award.
In Suffolk, the East Suffolk Line CRP’s project to make Beccles station a more attractive gateway to the town short listed for the Most Enhanced Station Buildings and Surroundings Award
They worked with Greater Anglia to improve facilities for customers and smarten up the station, with the installation of a new platform shelter, platform re-surfacing, better drainage and additional landscaping, complemented by floral displays created by the voluntary station adopters.
Another successful project, jointly funded and delivered by the CRP and Greater Anglia, was the installation of a replica enamel station sign (or “running in board”) on the platform to mark the lines 159th anniversary, and plans are in place to re-instate the station rose garden, improve information for visitors to the area and install new seating and LED platform lighting.
Improvements at the station have complemented the work of the Beccles & District Regeneration Charity which has restored and repurposed former station buildings for community use to include meeting rooms, business start-up units and a popular cafe.
The Community Rail Partnership and Greater Anglia’s Asset Management Team are also shortlisted for the ‘Influencing Positive Change’ Award, recognising their successful partnership which has achieved improvements at other stations.
Recent initiatives have seen a new cycle shelter at Wickham Market, heritage painting schemes at Lowestoft and Halesworth, installation of tourism and community information boards and an ongoing project to restore a significant part of Lowestoft Station which includes new lighting, creation of a public exhibition space, additional parking spaces, a significant reduction in antisocial behaviour and the refurbishment of concourse doorways helping to better connect the station site with the town centre.
Station adopter groups at Norfolk’s Reedham and Cantley rail stations, who have transformed them into amazing gardens and community hubs, are both shortlisted for the ‘It’s Your Station’ Award.
The team of ‘station adopters’ at Reedham station are nominated for their gardening work and range of community activities – such as the creation of a village museum, carol singing and coffee mornings, which have made the station a real hub for local people.
The adopters at Cantley have been recognised for their tireless efforts to create and maintain a truly stunning garden, which covers the lengths of both platforms and makes for an unforgettable welcome to the area. Such is its fame, that it was even once visited by gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh!
Paul Haynes, Greater Anglia’s Community Partnerships Manager, said: "It’s great to see our community rail lines thriving, connecting people and bringing so many benefits. From the start of our franchise we made a real commitment to our Community Rail lines with an investment of £3.5 million – as well as working closely with them to encourage more people to use the train, and support local communities and the local economy.
“It's great to see this partnership approach and the efforts of many people in Greater Anglia, the Community Rail Partnerships and local councils, plus some outstanding volunteers, receiving national recognition.”
The award winners and commended initiatives will be announced on 4 October.