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Wing Award moves to Rail Safety Summit

Next year, the prestigious Wing Award for Safety will be presented at the Rail Safety Summit conference to be held at the Royal College of Physicians. The re-launch of the award follows Rail Media’s announcement of an expanded Rail Safety Summit to be held on 30 April, 2015.

The Wing Award for Safety is an annual award presented to someone who has made an outstanding contribution towards the safety of staff working at the line side on the railways of Great Britain. It was introduced in 1994 by the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers (IRSE) to commemorate the life and work of Peter Wing, a former Fellow of the Institution.

Though initiated by the Signals and Telecommunications (S&T) community, it was stipulated from the start that the award would be made to an employee of any profession or company, something quite important as the UK rail industry was in the initial stages of privatisation.

Peter Wing began his signal engineering career in the test room in Reading where, on satisfactory completion of initial post school studies, he was offered a sandwich course engineering apprenticeship. On successful completion of his training and professional qualifications, he held various posts around the western region before being promoted to assistant S&T engineer, Norwich Division, in 1973 and then the same at  Liverpool Street.

However, the allure of God’s Wonderful Railway held strong and in 1980 he returned, this time to Bristol, as divisional engineer. A er a spell at Reading as regional signal engineer, he was promoted to the western regional S&T engineer. In 1991, he moved up to the directorate of S&T engineering at British Railways Board where he took considerable interest in lineside safety. At the time, the level of rail staff fatalities was unacceptably high and in S&T was disproportionately so.

There had been four within the department within 12 months. In this role, Peter’s care and concern for staff safety provided the driving force for the production of an extremely hardhitting and innovative video entitled ‘Dead Serious about Safety’ which was instrumental in bringing about a culture change in safety awareness and won international acclaim.

The video analysed four recent fatalities and included a very emotional interview with a very brave widow of one of them. The reduction to virtually zero of lineside casualties over the next few years, with Dead Serious about Safety as a central pillar of the national campaign, was remarkable.

Peter sadly died in 1993 at the age of 49 and has been greatly missed by his family and colleagues alike. His leadership, especially in matters of staff safety, was exemplary. As a boss, he had an exceptional talent for bringing the best out of those who worked for him.

The award is administered by the IRSE on behalf of the industry, notably; the Members of the Railway Group, the Office of Rail Regulation and the railway supply industry, who, amongst others, supported the creation of the award.

Nominations open in January 2015 and full details about applications, criteria and how best to write a nomination will be published in RailStaff.

Says Tom O’Connor, managing director of Rail Media, ‘We are delighted to welcome the Wing Award for Safety to the Rail Safety Summit. Peter Wing was an inspirational figure in the railway industry and it is fitting that his example and pioneering work is continuing in this way.

‘The Rail Safety Summit at the Royal College of Physicians forms an increasingly helpful focus for our number one responsibility, railway safety. We look forward to a much higher profile for the Wing Award for Safety.’

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