Clockwise from upper left: The awards event, Saxmundham, Lowestoft, Darsham, Westerfield
Greater Anglia has recognised volunteers at four East Suffolk Lines stations who have worked over the past year to bring their stations to the heart of their communities.
Each year the train operator hosts its Station Adoption Awards event where the best achievements over the last 12 months are recognised. This year the entries were from amongst a group of more than 330 volunteer station adopters across Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.
The army of volunteers works with Greater Anglia to improve their local stations for the benefit of the community. Great effort and dedication were evident at all adopted stations by the volunteers. Particularly impressive progress or initiatives were highlighted across 10 categories including best station, best adopter group, environmental and innovation award, and community involvement award.
This year Lowestoft won the award for Best Staffed Station; Darsham was jointly highly commended for Best Small Station; the adopters at Saxmundham were highly commended in the category Best Adopter Group, and Mary Pluquet was highly commended as Best Newcomer for her work at Westerfield station.
Alan Neville, Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, said, “This year’s awards were very special as we are celebrating 20 years of the Station Adoption initiative in East Anglia.
“It has been great to celebrate the achievements of our station adopters over the past year and also reflect on the incredible transformation we have seen at rail stations over the last 20 years, a large part of which is thanks to Station Adoption.
“Our station adopters are real heroes 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.”
Greater Anglia’s Station Adoption scheme enables individuals or groups to adopt their local railway station and contribute to its use and welfare for the benefit of their community. Station adopters work with Greater Anglia and in parts of Suffolk with the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership to bring about improvements or care for gardens and floral displays to benefit local wildlife and make stations more welcoming.
Greater Anglia provides funding to help station adopters cover the costs of small projects, such as the creation of station gardens and/or to purchase materials to help improve the station environment.
The voluntary scheme, which was introduced by Anglia Railways in 2003, built on similar initiatives elsewhere in the UK, to improve lines of communication between train operators and station users, but extended it to involve station adopters in playing an active role in keeping stations looking good – initially through creative gardening projects and station presentation improvements.
Over the years, adopters have expanded their activities to encompass wildlife-friendly initiatives, community art projects, local promotion of the railway and participation in station ‘health checks’, as well as being the eyes and ears of their station and encouraging links between the station and local communities.