His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester is to visit the Swanage Railway to present dedicated volunteers on the Dorset heritage line with the coveted and prestigious Queen's Award for Voluntary Service – regarded as the MBE for voluntary groups.
The royal guest will be travelling on a special train from Swanage to Corfe Castle on Friday, 8 June, 2018, in the company of the Lord Lieutenant of Dorset, Angus Campbell, who is the Queen’s representative for the county.
Recognising excellence in voluntary activities by community groups, the citation for the Queen’s Award praises the Swanage Railway Trust for "developing the heritage railway to reinstate services between Swanage and Wareham for the benefit of the community."
At Corfe Castle station, His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester will be presenting Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service badges to six dedicated Swanage Railway volunteers – two of them who have been involved in the project to rebuild the Isle of Purbeck branch line since the beginning of the Herculean effort back in 1972.
Swanage Railway Trust chairman Gavin Johns said: "The presentation of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to the Swanage Railway is a tremendous public recognition for the huge amount of work put in by so many volunteers over the last 45 years.
"To have all that dedicated and devoted hard work marked in this way by Her Majesty the Queen is very special indeed and something that we will treasure.
“Several generations of dedicated volunteers have worked tirelessly to rebuild the branch line from Swanage to Corfe Castle and onwards to near Furzebrook after it was controversially closed by British Rail in January, 1972.
“Seven miles of track was torn up in just seven weeks, during the summer of 1972, with several generations of determined Swanage Railway volunteers taking 25 years to relay it,” added Mr Johns who is also a volunteer Swanage Railway signalman.
The steam locomotive hauling Friday’s special train – with His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester on board – will be carrying four white discs on the front of the locomotive to denote that the train is carrying royalty.
The Swanage Railway is managed by the Swanage Railway Trust – a registered charity – which dates back, in several forms, to 1974 and has a national and international, membership of 4,000 people.
Around 450 of those members are regular volunteers on the Swanage Railway – helping to run, develop and extend the popular heritage line which last year carried some 211,000 passengers on its steam and diesel trains.
During the official visit, His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester will also be unveiling a plaque in the booking hall of Swanage station marking the award of the coveted Peter Manisty Award to the heritage line in March, 2018.
As well as meeting officers of the Swanage Railway Trust, His Royal Highness will also be introduced to directors of the Swanage Railway Company – which runs the trains – as well as volunteers and staff who have worked on the Swanage Railway’s Project Wareham for more than 20 years.
The prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was created by Her Majesty the Queen in 2002 to mark the occasion of her Golden Jubilee and is regarded as the MBE – the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – for volunteer groups.
A national excellence accolade, the Peter Manisty Award from the Heritage Railway Association was given to the Swanage Railway for re-instating the line to Wareham and returning trains from Swanage and Corfe Castle to the main line at Wareham during a 60 selected day trial in the summer of 2017.
A Heritage Railway Association spokesman said: “This prestigious Peter Manisty Award recognises the huge effort over many years to restore passenger services over the full length of the line from Swanage to Wareham – an incredible project that restored a public service.”
Latest from Unseen Steam
- Heavy motion forgings ordered for P2 Prince of Wales project
- Historic weekend for South Tynedale Railway
- P2 Prince of Wales project launches new sponsor scheme
- Apedale to host Tracks to Trenches event in July
- Ivatts on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway
- 3 Ivatts on The Island - Isle of Wight - 26th May 2018
- Crewe departure - 34052 Lord Dowding/ 34046 Braunton
- Just Seen - LMS 4-6-0s on the GBXI tour