When David Maidment OBE was approached to help unveil a name plate on a Colas Rail Class 66 loco he stepped up to the plate without a second thought.
The Railway Children charity is keenly supported by railway staff up and down the network and David, who founded the charity, has proved a busy ambassador for the cause. David was visiting the National Track Plant Exhibition at Long Marston where the 219 exhibitors and 3,700 visitors raised £8,750 for the charity.
Says David Maidment, ‘The naming was a complete surprise. Initially I was unaware that an engine was to be named, then when asked to perform the ceremony, I assumed the locomotive was to receive the name ‘Railway Children’ and I was speechless – well nearly – when I unveiled my own name on the side of the Colas Rail heavy freight engine.’
Organised by Network Rail and supported by the Rail Alliance and the rail engineer magazine, the National Track Plant Exhibition brought together suppliers of plant and equipment and leading decision makers, engineers and contractors from the rail industry.
People were able to watch demonstrations of rail mounted equipment on the rail connected site and compare notes in an informal atmosphere. The whole event reflected the continuing rise in rail industry confidence. Many of the visitors had long supported the Railway Children taking part in various network-wide fund raising activities.
Says Steve Featherstone of Network Rail, who organised the event, ‘A few weeks ago I did the Three Peaks Challenge by Rail on behalf of Railway Children. This gave me an opportunity to understand some of the great work the charity does. Much of that work is a result of the vision and passion David has shown since founding the charity in 1995.
‘Stephen Haynes, (Managing Director, Rail Services, Colas Rail) had provided engines as logistical support for the show and he asked did we know anyone deserving of an engine naming. It was a pleasure to invite David to unveil the nameplate and recognise the outstanding contribution that he has made to Railway Children and to the wider railway industry.’
David Maidment set up Railway Children in 1996, following an encounter with a young girl begging on a railway station in India. For the past 18 years, he has dedicated his life to raising awareness of the plight of children living alone and at risk on the streets and railway platforms.
Adds Tom O’Connor of the Rail Media Group which supported the event, ‘The train naming capped a relaxed and hugely beneficial two days. Communication is the central purpose of the railway.
‘Every day rail helps men, women and children communicate by connecting people with their homes, businesses, schools and places of work in comfort and safety. Passengers are looked after as much by track side staff, engineers and fitters as by train crew and station staff.
‘It is a face-to-face, people intensive, industry. Helping people in the industry itself to communicate and better progress new plant, technologies and ideas is essential if we are to continue to grow the railway.
‘All of us at Rail Media are committed to helping the industry communicate with confidence and precision. It is fitting that our support for the little people so less fortunate than ourselves should have been reflected in the train naming by David Maidment – an exemplar of the compassionate, can-do and practical qualities of the rail industry. Long may the work of the Railway Children continue.
‘Long Marston was a camera shot of the industry at its best. Many thanks to Network Rail’s Steve Featherstone and his team and all who supported the National Track Plant Exhibition, which was a resounding success.’