Following the Caledonian Railway’s success in the Angus Ambassador Awards 2013, the attraction received a visit from Angus Provost, Helen Oswald.
The Provost met with Tommy Henderson, who is chairman of the Brechin Railway Preservation Society, to discuss the railway’s success.
The volunteer run attraction receives 16,000 paying visitors a year, and 5,000 visitors alone attending the Thomas the Tank Engine themed days. Tommy explained: “The themed days are a real success with people visiting Angus from all over the UK. To make sure we meet the demand and guarantee delivery of these events, we have to have a regular number of committed volunteers.”
Discussing the decision to bring Thomas the Tank Engine to Brechin, which was aided by funding support from Angus Council, Mrs Oswald commented: “This business decision has made you more visible. Bringing a worldwide name to the railway puts a spotlight on your attraction and our county for UK and international visitors. That, and the railway being run solely by volunteers really impressed the Angus Ambassador Award judges.”
The attraction sources volunteers from all over the county and because of the hands-on experience gained, volunteers often go on to secure permanent positions elsewhere.
Tommy said: “From painting and decorating, mechanical engineering, maintenance and building work to cleaning trains, managing the café and looking after visitors, we are always looking for extra volunteers. There are around 40 or so regular volunteers that have manned the railway for years, a couple since 1979. Without these people the railway just wouldn’t run. This requires a management programme that’s organised well in advance to make sure we have enough cover.
“Getting recognition for all our hard work makes it all worthwhile. This award means a lot to us and is hanging pride of place in the station cafe.”