The fallout from the Grenfell Tower fire was felt by communities across West London. For an operator like Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which reaches across the capital, its impact was felt by staff and passengers alike.
Determined to support staff across the network and raise money for the Grenfell fire victims, GTR employee engagement manager Paula Hilliard helped organise collections at some of the network’s busiest stations, including King’s Cross, London Bridge, St Pancras, Croydon and Brighton.
Paula and her army of collectors had hoped to raise a couple of thousands of pounds to support those who were caught up in the tragic blaze. In less than a week, they had collected more than £12,500.
Paula, who has worked in the industry for 21 years, won this year’s RBF ‘Heart of Gold’ award for charity.
Although her fundraising for Grenfell featured highly in her nomination, it wasn’t the only thing to gain the admiration of her colleagues. Paula also coordinates the operator’s programme with the Prince’s Trust, which offers employment opportunities to young people from the local community, and she also oversees the company’s other charity fundraising activities.
Referring to the Grenfell collections, Paula said, ‘It was just something that everybody wanted to get involved in, but we had to turn it round really quickly because we wanted to make sure the money got there as quickly as possible.’
She added, ‘I am really humbled to have won this award. I see my job as a team effort, supported by station managers, frontline teams and head office.
‘I’m proud to work for GTR – it really is a great company which does a lot to help people less fortunate; the work I do genuinely wouldn’t be possible without the support that I get from across the business. Because of this, this award has been accepted on behalf of everyone in the company that’s helped to raise money, or supported with the Prince’s Trust programme.’
Charles Horton, GTR’s chief executive officer, said, ‘Many congratulations to all our colleagues who received richly deserved nominations for the RailStaff Awards.
‘Paula has worked tirelessly with young people as part of GTR’s ‘Get into Railways’ programme with the Prince’s Trust, and more recently has organised fundraising support for a number of young football teams.
‘I would also like to recognise and warmly congratulate our other shortlisted colleagues and teams who have all worked so hard. It’s great to see them commended by the wider industry.’
The award was sponsored by the Railway Benefit Fund (RBF) – a charity which provides support to its rail industry members in times of need.
Faye Jaques, fundraising manager at RBF, said, ‘The quality of nominations was just fantastic this year. Each entry truly showed what a wonderful industry we work in and highlighted the exact personalities we wanted to celebrate, those with a real heart of gold.’
Highly commended: Lesley Soane, Network Rail, and Kev Adlam, Branch Line Society.