April saw the Young Rail Professionals (YRP) Annual Black Tie Dinner, a yearly celebration of young people in rail. Always a glittering spectacle, this year’s bash at the Grand Connaught Rooms sold out in record time, with 460 YRPs, senior rail professionals and VIP guests celebrating in grand style.
Kicked off by a lively welcome drinks reception, the hall was already buzzing by the time the guests reached their seats.
The dinner began with the swan song of the outgoing YRP national chairman Adam Stead as his speech marked his “retirement” from YRP, though he will not be forgotten any time soon. Anyone who attends YRP committee meeting will know that his retirement was a ruse, anyway – a testament to the draw of YRP and its ability to shape the future for young people in the industry.
A very special keynote address from Simon Kirby, chief executive of HS2, was the headline speech of the night. Simon gave a special focus on the importance of young people in the industry, how to engage them and help them to become leaders. Given his unique role as the future employer of choice for the schoolchildren of today, it was especially meaningful to hear Simon’s emphasis on attracting, retaining and promoting young people.
Following Simon’s speech, as part of the annual tradition for YRP, Julianna Moats, YRP National PR and communications manager, delivered a brief call to action to support the Railway Children Charity just before the dinner was served. The night was a success for the charity, raising just over £1,800 for the Railway Children.
After dinner, new YRP national chairman, Stephen Head, spoke of the impressive statistics of YRP, having doubled its membership in the last year, with the expansion across Great Britain. To highlight the new regional structure, Stephen polled the audience to the sound of cheers from each region in Britain, and from international guests, showing the growing geographic reach of YRP’s influence.
To conclude the evening, a new Young Rail Professional of the Year was crowned. Richard Gannon, a scheme project manager at Network Rail, garnered the top award from a very impressive list of nominees. All of the award finalists were invited as VIP guests to the dinner, and it was a privilege to have such accomplished young people counted amongst the members of YRP.
The dinner concluded with a gigantic YRP Committee member team photo, with hard working volunteers from across Britain gathering together, to join their friends and to make a difference for young people in the industry.
If anyone would like to become involved in organising future YRP events, performing outreach activities to promote the railway industry as a career choice, and developing opportunities for young people to be recognised and prioritised in the wider railway industry, then you are of course welcome to contact us at [email protected].