CRL - Community Rail Lancashire

Award For Community Rail Chairman

At the final meeting of the Craven District Council 30 individuals and organisations from the Craven District were honoured with Legacy Awards, amongst them was the long-serving chairman of the Bentham Line, Gerald Townson. This marked the end of an era, as the District Council was subsumed within a new North Yorkshire Council.

LMCRP Chair Gerald Townson at Bentham station – Brian Haworth

The Legacy Awards were presented by Councillor Simon Myers, chairman of Craven District Council, at the ceremony held in Skipton Town Hall. They were designed to recognise those who have gone above and beyond to serve the Craven community and who have made a difference to the lives of Craven’s residents.

Gerald joined the CRP in 2011 on his retirement from teaching on the South Coast and since then he has devoted countless hours to ensuring that the Bentham Line, through the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership, plays its part in developing a wide range of community activities that benefit the local communities and improve and promote the line. These have included educational work with hundreds of school children, the pioneering award-winning dementia initiative for the route, as well as community initiatives with university students from across the country, on year-long placements with Northern Trains Ltd. He has developed several tourism initiatives and, all raising the profile of the line. He became chairman of the partnership in 2013 and has determinedly driven the organisation forward since then gaining new services.

The photograph above shows Gerald with his framed certificate seated at Bentham Station which is home to the Community Rail Partnership. Gerald said: “I was surprised and delighted to receive the award and pleased to know that the profile of this much-loved route has been raised reflected in continued growth in passenger numbers. However, it has been a great team effort by the directors and officers to bring the many positive initiatives to fruition.”

Gerald was nominated by the members of Bentham Town Council for his services to the Bentham Line not just at Bentham but across Craven and beyond. As well as being chairman of the CRP and the Friends of Bentham Station, he is also the secretary of the Lancaster and Skipton Rail User Group and a director of Community Rail Lancashire. His role in Community Rail involves him in a number of different organisations, such as the Community Rail Executive Group at Northern, that represent the public transport industry across the north of England and seek to create services that are responsive to their communities.