Downs Light Railway Trust wins the Heritage Railway Association's 2021 Award for Small Groups

Lucy, one of our youth members, expresses thanks on behalf everyone at the Downs Light Railway Trust to the Heritage Railway Association for selecting us as the winner of the small groups category.
The Downs Light Railway Trust is absolutely delighted to receive the Heritage Railway Association's 2021 Award for Small Groups. This recognises all the hard work that our small group of charity trustees, staff and volunteers do to engage young people through the Downs Light Railway. Our work furthers the education of young people and promotes youth engagement in heritage and national rail sectors.
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Over the past ten years we have been working to improve the 96 year old Downs Light Railway. This requires modernisation of our facilities so that we can broaden our public benefit and sustain our operation.

Since joining the Heritage Railway Association in 2019, we have been acutely aware of the national need to boost youth engagement. We are fortunate to have a setup that enables young people to experience the operation and maintenance and learn key skills. Working with the Heritage Railway Association, one of our aims is to develop competent young people who can then progress onto heritage and national railways.

Our youth engagement initiative has brought together other member organisations. With their support, we hope to realise our Centenary Development Programme and return that support. We have decades of experience working with young people. We hope to offer that experience to encourage similar youth railways to be established at other sites.

All heritage railways find it a perpetual challenge to attract and engage young people to join-in and volunteer but, where it is achieved, the benefits to both the railway and the individual are immense. Your work does much to promote youth engagement in supporting heritage and leisure railways across the United Kingdom.
In March 2021, the Heritage Railway Association endorsed our Centenary Development Programme. This is the foundation for expanding our youth engagement activities beyond Herefordshire and Worcestershire. We hope by 2025, the Downs Light Railway's centenary, our facilities will be sufficiently upgraded to allow us to broaden our reach. A number of organisations have also pledged support and have started working with us, recognising the potential benefits that can be realised from our activities. This award from the HRA further endorses our efforts.

Editor Notes

  1. The Heritage Railway Association holds an awards ceremony annually to recognise the achievements throughout the heritage railway industry.
  2. The Heritage Railway Association's Award for Small Groups recognise a member organisation from the smaller categories of the membership for excellence in developing their business, or for an item not covered elsewhere. It is either for a member organisation as a whole, a group of its staff or volunteers, or an individual.
  3. The Heritage Railway Association or HRA, which is a voluntary run trade association representing Heritage & Tourist railways, related Museums, Tramways, Cliff Lifts, Railway Preservation Groups and related organisations. More than 180 of its member organisations regularly open to the public, with 156 of these operating with passengers, although a few only give rides on special days. They have over 300 corporate members in total.
  4. The Downs Light Railway Trust is a corporate member of the HRA.
  5. The Downs Light Railway Trust is a charitable trust, registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales. Registration number is 513882.
  6. The Downs Light Railway Trust's Centenary Development Programme aims to increase youth engagement in heritage railways, provide greater practical learning opportunities and strengthened community involvement. The programme hopes to realise these aims from 2025 when the Downs Light Railway is 100 years old.
  7. The Downs Light Railway was started by The Downs School (Colwall), now The Downs Malvern, in the early 1920s and was formally established in 1925. At over 96 years old, it stands to be the oldest private miniature railway worldwide.
  8. The Downs Light Railway educates on average 15 children on each session. These children are aged between 7 and 18 years old. Dedicated sessions are provided to local educational establishments. General youth activities are open to all children.

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