Norfolk and Suffolk community rail volunteers recognised for ‘amazing’ work

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Greater Anglia has recognised its ‘very special’ volunteers in Norfolk and Suffolk, who have been working to bring their local rail stations to the heart of their communities.

They include Sue Cox, of Somerleyton station, who was singled out for the love and care she has bestowed on the Suffolk station for the past 20 years, delighting local people and visitors alike with floral displays, and creating an eco-friendly haven for wildlife along the platforms.

Woman in a sun hat and scarf smiling

Sue lives at the Station House and has tended to the gardens there since 1991. She knows every plant, has logged them all, and encouraged plants which provide a food source for insects and a habitat for birds and small mammals.

She collects rainwater to help water the plants and never uses pesticides and as a result, the station benefits from an abundance of wildlife.

Also commended was David Pearce, for his contribution as the adopter of Gunton station in Norfolk and for his role as Vice Chair and adopter coordinator of the Bittern Line Community Rail Partnership.

In these roles David has been an avid enthusiast of all things rail and, as a keen photographer has contributed a substantial library of images specifically for the Bittern and Wherry Lines routes which have subsequently been used in the creation of new websites and other marketing material.

Last summer, his photographs recording the changing face of the railway over the past fifty years formed a public exhibition, ‘Departures’, which ran in the Parcels Office Public Exhibition Space at Lowestoft station.

Sandy Burn was recognised for ‘Best Personal Contribution’ for transforming Westerfield station in Suffolk with flowers.

Recently she started a community project involving the cub scouts, parish council, East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership and the Community Rail Network to improve the wellbeing of local people and providing a haven for wildlife.

Together they will transform 72 square metres of land adjacent to the Ipswich-bound platform by planting over 200 native plants including perennials, grasses and wildflower seed and plant herbs for the community to use.

Lowestoft station and Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership volunteers – Jacqui Dale, Andy Swan, Trevor Garrod and Tim Miller - were praised for involving the wider community their work with the ongoing Lowestoft Central Project, which has included working with schools to host a public event for Holocaust Memorial Day featuring students performing a play about the kindertransport initiative, several floral displays, creation of a heritage area and the opening in July of a new tourist information, shop and community rail hub.

Needham Market was named the ‘most improved’ station after the dedication of volunteer team – Claire Kendall, Christine Dobson, Heather Bloomfield and Vera Cousins - and their efforts to establish a wildflower garden, woodland area and their continued care for its flower displays impressed the judges.

Also recognised were Greg and Maggie Chandler, Tom Adams and Gillian Westall for their work as a team at Brundall Gardens. Together they have created stunning floral displays which also saw the local Co-Op donate eight planters, a wildflower area and a community newsletter to highlight what they have achieved there.

New volunteer, Sally Ann Ford, was praised for her work at Saxmundham station to plan a new station garden in line with the redevelopment of the fire-damaged station building and car park. She also maintains a poster board at the station with an uplifting thought of the week and is working with Leiston Works Railway and the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership to provide interpretation boards documenting the history of the railway in the area.

Also commended in the awards were Chris and Sally Dady for their efforts at Salhouse station, Norfolk, and the work of volunteers at Derby Road near Ipswich who brought the whole community together to turn a large area of wasteland into a wildflower haven for pollinating insects.

They were all praised at Greater Anglia’s Station Adoption Awards, held virtually on Friday 16 October.

Greater Anglia’s Station Adoption initiative sees local people across the network get involved with their local stations to come up with ideas and projects that benefit their communities.

Alan Neville, Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, said: "Our station adopters are very special people who achieve amazing things to benefit their communities and make them better places to live with their enthusiasm to bring rural stations to life and restore their links to the communities they serve.

"The adopters know their stations and the needs of their community well and we are happy to support their aims through small grants and facilitating improvements.

"I am delighted that we can also recognise and thank them through the Adopter Awards - we’ve seen some fantastic and innovative projects this year and I would like to thank them all for their continued hard work."