The famous Railway, which now attracts more than 200,000 visitors per year, widely recognises it would not be the success that it is today without its 1,300-strong body of committed and enthusiastic volunteers, who are involved with the Railway on all levels day-to-day, from maintaining stations, rebuilding bridges and restoring locomotives to operating the route and organising events.
The Railway is holding a Volunteer Job Fair on Saturday April, 11th, from 10am - 4pm on Kidderminster Station, as part of its Members and Shareholders Weekend, for those who are interested in sparing some of their time to help keep the railway on track.
Representatives from a range of departments across the SVR, including station guards, booking offices, catering, on-train buffet, diesel groups, retail and carriage & wagon maintenance will be on hand to chat to visitors about the wide range of volunteering options available.
Youngsters can also find out how to get involved with the Railway through the SVR Junior Club, giving budding railway enthusiasts the chance to get to grips with hands-on, supervised maintenance projects.
This year marks 50 years since the SVR was launched by a group of passionate railway enthusiasts who dedicated themselves to re-opening the line following its closure in 1963, many of whom are still closely involved with the Railway to this day and continue to dedicate their time, free of charge, to ensuring the Railway’s future is protected for generations to come.
The ‘outstanding achievement’ of the SVR’s volunteers was recognised by HRH The Queen herself, after the Railway received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2013, rewarding excellence shown by groups of volunteers who regularly devote their time to helping others in the community and providing an outstanding service.
Clare Gibbard, the SVR’s marketing and communications manager, said: “We cannot say enough how valuable our volunteers are to us – their enthusiasm, hard-work and commitment has put us where we are today, in the hearts of the many thousands of visitors who take to our tracks each year and, to put it bluntly, without the time that they so generously donate for free, we simply would not be here today.
“However, there are also many benefits - our volunteers will be the first to tell you of the enjoyment and pride they feel about being part of the SVR team, as well as the huge sense of camaraderie and the close friends that they have made while volunteering on the Railway.”
She added: “Our 50th Anniversary seems the ideal time to invite others to come and see whether they could join our team and help us to ensure that the SVR continues to thrive for the next 50 years.”
Those interested in donating some of their time to the Railway can sign up as SVR members, entitling them to a range of benefits and allowing them to become volunteers.
The Volunteer Job Fair is part of the SVR’s Members and Shareholders Weekend, on April 11th -12th, offering the general public the chance to join those involved in the Railway for a day out along the line.
The SVR’s heritage steam and diesel locomotives will be in action, taking passengers along the line to admire the views of the Severn Valley in full springtime bloom, or to visit any of the line’s six historic stations or Engine House Visitor Centre en-route.
Inquisitive visitors will also be given the rare opportunity to take a look behind the giant doors of the Bridgnorth Locomotive Works, home to the Railway’s engine restoration projects, and to experience the inner workings of a signal box – both normally closed to the public.
Those in the mood to indulge can add a touch of luxury to their visit by enjoying a cream tea whilst taking in the scenery on board the SVR’s Observation Saloon, journeying between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth or reverse. Advance booking is highly recommended.
Mrs Gibbard added: “Members and Shareholders Weekend offers lots for everyone, whether you are involved in the railway already, would like to get involved, or are simply looking for a great day out – there’s lots to do for everyone.”
To marks its 50th Anniversary, the SVR has just launched a brand new anniversary exhibition at The Engine House Visitor Centre at Highley, taking visitors on a journey through the Railway’s first half-century, from its founding to becoming the much-loved tourist attraction that it is today.
It is also running a jam-packed schedule of events this year, including new additions like Sounds of the 60s in August, and is preparing to welcome HRH The Princess Royal on her first visit to the Railway, on April 13th.
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