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Charity and safety take centre stage

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Network Rail’s Bill Cooke would have been briefly disappointed to miss out on the Safety Person of the Year award to John Abbott and colleague Roan Willmore, but his fundraising exploits ensured he’d come away with a trophy before the night was over.

John Abbott, from RSSB, and Network Rail’s Roan Willmore collaborated to produce the recent ‘Leading Health and Safety on Britain’s Railways: A strategy for working together’. The strategy looks at what the industry can do over the next 10 years to further improve its health and safety performance.

Says John, who collected the award, ‘On behalf of Roan and myself, I’m delighted that we’ve won the award because it just reflects the importance to the industry of safety and the work we’ve done which we hope to further improve our already impressive health and safety performance.’

He added, ‘To put it in context, Britain’s railways have never been safer and I’m proud to say that over the last few years we have become the safest railway in Europe. But there is still considerable room for improvement on many aspects, whether that’s to do with the workforce in terms of health and safety, but also there’s further improvements that can be made to passenger safety and public safety. ’

Bridgeway has been the sponsor of the Safety Person of the Year category since the first RailStaff Awards in 2007. Like the awards, Bridgeway has grown in stature since it was formed by three British Rail underwater inspection unit divers in 1995, now employing some 700 members of staff and holding a Network Rail principal contractor license.

The company provides a range of engineering services, including on site and ground investigations, isolations, geomatics, Business Information Modelling (BIM), utilities, structures examinations – including diving and rope access, AC/ DC isolations, possession management, worksite management, permanent way engineering and signalling and telecommunications.

Says managing director Pino De Rosa, ‘As a rail industry stakeholder, as an organisation that has a commercial challenge to succeed and survive and prosper, the one thing that underpins everything we do is the importance of making sure that all our people go home safe at the end of every shift.’

He added, ‘There are people out tonight working in the dark, in the cold, in the rain potentially, and it’s really important that we make every effort to make sure they’re safe so being the sponsor of the Rail Safety Person or Rail Safety Team of the Year means a lot to me on a personal level.’

Bill Cooke received the Charitable Person of the Year title having helped to raise more than £460,000 for charity over the past 13 years. This has in part been down to Bill’s Annual Charity Partners Golf Day, a popular event which is supported by companies across the rail industry.

Adrian Fricker wrote in his nomination, ‘The amounts that Bill has been able to raise for a number of charities over such a sustained period are exceptional and his passion, enthusiasm and commitment go far above the norm of charity fundraising.

‘He has been an active member of the Network Rail Charity Panel for a number of years and is seen as a role model in terms of his behaviour and delivery.’

The Charitable Person of the Year category was sponsored by Force Contracting Services (FCS). FCS provides construction, civil engineering and role access solutions to the rail industry. From its base in Worksop, FCS supports clients nationwide, including J Murphy and Son, AMCO Rail and Kier.

Jim Broe, who presented the award for FCS, said it was great to be able to recognise ‘anyone that takes time out above and beyond what they do’. ‘It’s key and very important to society in general.’


Bill Cooke, Network Rail
Stobart Rail Safety Department, Stobart Rail


Crystal Danbury, Chiltern Railways
Luke Gardner, TransPennine Express

Photo: John Abbott (right) and Pino De Rosa.