Volunteers who have turned an ordinary railway halt into a beautiful and novel attraction were celebrating double honours today.
For community group the Friends of Hindley Station and its secretary Sheila Davidson have taken two national awards at the annual Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) Community Rail Awards gala dinner, held at The Roundhouse in Derby.
The Friends beat off strong competition on a showcase night for the community rail movement to win the It’s Your Station prize for the second year in a row. It recognises the group’s efforts to improve the environment at Hindley, engage with the local community and promote local mining heritage.
The judges remarked that the station has been transformed, initially through community gardening, but then going beyond this making it into an important community hub and tourist attraction deeply rooted in the local area. One of the latest features is a miniature pit head.
Founding member Sheila also won the Outstanding Volunteer Contribution award, recognising her role in building the organisation. Alongside husband Sandy, Sheila has co-ordinated many activities including working with local schools, police cadets and other community groups. And it follows her being presented with a Heart of the Community Award by councillors in March.
Sheila said: “The group and I are thrilled at this latest recognition. It’s a real team effort and also a labour of love. We are very proud of the station and love it that it has become a treasured talking point.”
The awards recognise the important and often unsung work carried out by community rail partnerships, station friends and other community rail groups across the country.
ACoRP chief executive Jools Townsend said: “We are delighted to present these awards to the Friends of Hindley Station and Sheila Davidson for their inspirational work. Not only have they transformed their station over the years through gardening, they have also truly brought the station back into the heart of the community.
“This has included working with local schools and youth groups, coordinating volunteering and a wide range of projects, promoting local heritage, and sharing lessons and ideas with community rail groups in other areas.
“They have made sure that the community benefits from the station and their railway in all sorts of ways, and have done so with passion and determination. It’s an impressive example of community rail in action that deserves this national recognition – especially with hundreds more community rail groups around the country looking to them for inspiration.”