Double Celebrations for Community Rail Lancashire at the Community Rail Awards
On Thursday 6th October at the Community Rail Awards, in Manchester, two of the Community Rail Lancashire team were recognised for their hard work and dedication to community rail.
Founder of Community Rail Lancashire, Richard Watts was awarded the prestigious Special Recognition Award for his many years of commitment and dedication towards community rail.
Richard is one of the founders of community rail and has been a proud ambassador for the movement at a national level, showing an exemplary commitment to consistently taking the movement forward. He ensures projects he is managing or assisting on are undertaken with diligence and dedication, and the recipients of his hard work – communities across Lancashire and beyond – are rewarded with the best possible outcomes, driven by his desire to place the railway at the heart of a fairer, more equal society where everyone has the chance to thrive.
Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain, former equality, diversity, and inclusion lead at CRL, and current Community Rail Network board member, said:
“I can think of nobody more deserving for this recognition than Richard. As well as being a creator and tireless supporter of community rail, Richard is an outstanding team leader and a great friend, not just to me, but to all those who love community rail and rail as he does.”
On the same evening, Tony Ford, Volunteer for South Fylde Line Community Rail partnership and Friends of St Anne’s Station came third in the Outstanding Volunteer Contribution.
Tony has been an inspiration to the South Fylde Line Community Rail Partnership since he took over chairing the group. His real passion lies in being an active member of the partnership and running his local Friends of St Anne’s station group. Tony has inspired the formation of new station partnerships at Kirkham & Wesham and Squires Gate, and supports other more established groups at Lytham, Moss Side, and Ansdell & Fairhaven.
Judges of this category described Tony as “ A truly inspirational volunteer who does so much to promote community rail.”
Richard Watts, Chair of Community Rail Lancashire said:
“Wow what an incredible evening! It was great to see so many people at the awards ceremony from across the many Community Rail partnerships.
A huge congratulations to Tony on his award, Tony’s energy and hard work over the many years on stations along the South Fylde Line is amazing and he is one of the most dedicated volunteers.
And the Special Recognition Award, what a surprise, thank you to all the judges and everyone at Community Rail Network for all their support towards Community Rail Lancashire and the team we have built over the years. Thank you again and what a great evening.”
Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, said:
“The Community Rail Awards give deserved recognition to community rail partnerships, groups and volunteers across Britain. We were thrilled to welcome more than 430 guests, alongside ministers and rail industry leaders, emphasising the great value of community rail, helping to build stronger, fairer, greener communities, served and connected by their railways and wider sustainable transport network.
“Despite another challenging year, the array of entries defied expectations, showing how community rail continues to strive to help people get the most from their railways and stations, and impact positively on local places and people’s lives.
Our congratulations go to Richard and Tony and all our winners, and thanks to everyone who supports community rail, helping the movement to go from strength to strength.”
All the winners can be found in the Winners Booklet, with further details about each winner.
Board’s Special Recognition Award: Winner: Richard Watts
Richard’s many achievements in rail down the years include:
+ Leading the redevelopment of Accrington Station as one of the UK’s first ‘eco-stations’;
+ Playing an instrumental role in the creation of transport interchanges at Burscough Bridge, Carnforth, and Clitheroe, the building of new stations at Burnley Manchester Road and Buckshaw Parkway, and the reopening of the iconic Settle-Carlisle Line;
+ Acting as a pivotal figure for community rail partnerships across Lancashire and numerous rail user groups;
+ Supporting vital community projects such as the ‘DalesRail’ guided walks programme and the EU Interreg project, ‘Citizens’ Rail’, working alongside the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership and partners in France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
+ Richard influenced government policy through playing an active role within Rail North in helping to shape the future of community rail in the Northern franchise, and was a key architect in supporting the Department for Transport in moving to the model that supported community rail through franchise agreements. He also served on the Community Rail Network (then ACoRP) board for many years, helping to oversee our expansion and embed a strategic approach to developing the movement, and provided a strong and valued voice on the National Community Rail Steering Group.
+ Richard understands the core of community rail; from his early involvement to his unswerving commitment to the movement, his positive impact on the physical rail landscape and many rail groups, his innovative outlook, and his unerring faith in the people who deliver community rail activity and ensure its legacy.
Outstanding Volunteer Contribution: Third Place: Tony Ford
+ Tony has been an inspiration to the South Fylde Line Community Rail Partnership since he took over chairing the group. His real passion lies in being an active member of the partnership and running his local Friends of St Anne’s station group.
+ Tony has inspired the formation of new station partnerships at Kirkham & Wesham and Squires Gate, and supports other more established groups at Lytham, Moss Side, and Ansdell.
+ Over the past year, he played a key role in the ‘Explore Lancashire By Rail’ film, detailing the walk between Lytham and St Anne’s, and also inspired the production of the ‘Discover the South Fylde Line’ leaflet launched during Community Rail Week, 2022.
+ Tony recently received what has been called ‘the Tony Award’ for his Outstanding Contribution to Britain in Bloom North West for 2021. It recognises his involvement and enthusiasm in supporting volunteers at stations along the South Fylde Line.
+ The testimony to Tony’s energy and hard work is stations along the South Fylde Line that look cared for and welcoming, and he is described as a “truly inspirational volunteer who does so much to promote community rail.”