The RailStaff Awards returned in 2022 after a two-month hiatus caused by the Covid-19. On its return, a new category was introduced to honour those workers who gave their all to improve the lot of their colleagues and communities during the pandemic. LNER’s Gavin Dicks was the recipient of the Covid Hero – Outstanding Individual Award.
Having joined the railway family in September 2019, Onboard Chef Gavin has become well known throughout LNER for his delightful food, and friendly and approachable manner. Like many colleagues, Gavin was stood down in early 2020 when the Covid outbreak hit, but he was also among the first to sign up to the LNER Reserves – LNER’s network-work army of advice and support volunteers.
Through this service, Gavin became a regular volunteer at FareShare, a national food charity. Here, he racked up hundreds of hours of volunteering over the course of the pandemic, and helped them to provide an estimated 11,372 meals across the North East of England. On top of that, his voluntary duties as a warehouse assistant helped ensure vital care packages could be provided by the charity to those most in need throughout lockdown and beyond.
As if all of this was not enough, after for seeing that the impact of lockdown and lack of social contact was having a negative impact on colleagues, Gavin has become a leading contributor to LNER’s virtual Community Cafes which has kept LNER teams in touch via online chat groups. Gavin used these sessions to lead virtual cooking classes, inspiring colleagues to get into the kitchen. The success of these lessons also inspired Gavin and a group of his colleagues put together a cookbook to help raise money for LNER’s charity partner, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM).
“To win this award means everything,” said Gavin, “but I just felt, during Covid, that I had to do something, I had to have a purpose. It’s been a tough few years for everybody, particularly in the rail industry, and events like these are fantastic for raising morale. I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me and also to LNER for making me fall back in love with work.”
The Covid Hero awards were sponsored by Young Rail Professionals (YRP), the networking organisation founded to promote the rail industry as a great place to work, inspire the next generation of railway talent, and develop young people to reach their potential.
“The COVID awards were vitally important in recognising those individuals who have shown true resilience, dedication and initiative during the pandemic,” said Fiona Glover, YRP chair. I was inspired by the range of activities, and often selfless approach, that all of the nominees displayed. Many congratulations to Gavin Dicks for winning the Covid Hero Individual award.”
John Sidebotham, Network Rail
Sharon Smith, McGinley