It's a win for Lucy and Thomas!

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[Left to Right] Tim Dunn (Historian and Television Presenter), Lord Faulkner of Worcester (President of the HRA and Patron of the Downs Light Railway Trust), Sophia Rose, Lucy Isherwood and Thomas Isherwood (Award Winners), Frederick Toher, Henry Needham, and Timothy Pennock (Chairman of the Downs Light Railway Trust)
Thomas and Lucy's efforts to raise money for our Centenary Development Programme gets recognised by the Heritage Railway Association at their annual awards for 2022.
On the 19th March 2022, the Downs Light Railway Trust attended the Heritage Railway Association's Awards Ceremony as a short-list entry for the Most Innovative Fundraising Idea Award. The efforts of Thomas and Lucy were duly rewarded when they received the famous HRA plaque from Brian Simpson (HRA Chairman) and Tim Dunn (Historian and TV Presenter) on behalf of the Downs Light Railway Trust.
This award, sponsored by Hallett Oils, is awarded to a HRA operating member that has produced the most innovative fundraising project or scheme during the COVID-19 pandemic. We congratulate the Bluebell Railway and the Class 502 Preservation Trust for also getting shortlisted for this category.

The awards evening was a great opportunity for our young members to meet other railway operators, see all the great work done by other organisations across the heritage railway sector, but most importantly see that they and we are part of a bigger community. We were delighted to catch up with our patron and HRA President Lord Faulkner of Worcester. It was also great to meet familiar faces from other railways and foster new friendships.
During the early part of 2021, Thomas and Lucy nurtured an opportunity to raise significant funds for our development programme. Liaising with a local engineering business that gave Thomas work experience, they were given a target to raise donations within a three-month period. In return, the local engineering business agreed to match their funding by 20 times.

In between Thomas’s GCSE exams and ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, they sort approval from the Downs Light Railway Trust to fundraise. They developed a fundraising strategy by themselves, produced fundraising flyers in consultation with the Trust, and setup an online fundraiser. They investigated various options for a fitness challenge to engage their audiences. They promoted the fundraising through their social media accounts, emails to their class peers and teachers, and notices around their school. Thomas setup a live stream for the event on YouTube, so that donors could watch the 24-hour cycle from home.

They set themselves an ambitious target of £2000 and exceeded it during the 24-hour cycle to achieve £2,350. The local engineering company honoured their match funding pledge, awarding the Downs Light Railway Trust with a donation of £47,650 to bring Thomas and Lucy’s fundraiser up to £50,000. This amazing achievement has helped us complete 1/4 of the funding required for our Centenary Development Programme.

Editor Notes

  1. The Heritage Railway Association or HRA 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.
  2. The HRA's full press release is available at https://www.hra.uk.com/press-release-23-march-2022
  3. The Downs Light Railway Trust is a corporate member of the HRA.
  4. 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.
  5. The Downs Light Railway Trust was previously recognised by the Heritage Railway Association in their 2021 Annual Awards for its contribution to youth engagement.
  6. The Downs Light Railway Trust was setup a charitable trust in 1983, registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales. Registration number is 513882.
  7. In August 2021, the Downs Light Railway Trust was registered as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration Number 1195660.
  8. 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 97 years old, it stands to be the oldest private miniature railway worldwide.
  9. 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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