Month: April 2020

The West Somerset Railway Association, the principle support charity for the West Somerset Railway is pleased to announce that it has received a £250 grant towards the set up costs of ‘WSR-TV’ the You Tube TV Channel set up to keep WSR volunteers, staff, supporters and local people in touch with the line during the Covid-19 shut down.

WSRA Chairman Mike Sherwood said: ‘The Channel was set up at the very start of the lockdown with the co-operation of the WSR plc and other Railway bodies including the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group based at Williton and now has over 30 videos to watch all focused on the West Somerset Railway.  Some are pure entertainment and others more historical instructional.  More material is being added daily.  The engagement shows how much folk love their Railway.  In less than a month we have had over 14,000 views and the number of subscribers – who get a message to tell them when a new video is uploaded – is just passing 400.  We are grateful to Somerset Community Foundation for their support.’

The Channel can be accessed HERE or by logging on to You Tube and searching for ‘West Somerset Railway Television’.

Dear Members

You may have seen a recent press announcement about locomotive 4160 moving to the South Devon Railway.

To be clear the WSRA position currently remains unchanged:
Association Shares in 4160 LTD were improperly disposed of to Mike Crees and Paul Johnson in 2015. The WSRA has been working to recover those shares and offered to compensate Messrs Crees and Johnson to their full purchased value. WSRA as a charity is obligated to try to achieve this objective.

WSRA have made it clear to Messrs Crees and Johnson from the beginning that the only thing we wished to see was 4160 running again on WSR metals. In order to try and achieve this, the WSRA offered mediation a while back and made it abundantly clear that if the transaction were to be reversed the WSRA would be prepared to help fund the remaining overhaul work needed on 4160. Unfortunately, mediation at this stage was rejected by Mike Crees.

More recently, after we had instituted proceedings, Crees and Johnson’s solicitor asked for mediation which led to WSRA trustees agreeing to a delay in the court proceedings so that mediation could take place. At this time no offer of any meeting has been has been made by Messrs Crees and Johnson’s solicitor to the WSRA solicitor. Neither have we received any direct approach with a meeting offer from Messrs Crees and Johnson

WSRA had no prior knowledge of the newly announced arrangements.

We will revisit this matter with members in more detail at the next Association AGM due to be held in the Autumn.

If, as WSRA members, you have strong views on this subject please let us know so these can be given full consideration in the board’s discussions.

Dear Members

At this difficult time, your Trustees thought it was important to write to you to explain what we are doing to support our Railway.

At the moment the Railway is in the ‘deep freeze’ of Covid-19 lockdown with no trains running, virtually all staff on furlough and no activities being carried out apart from essential security patrols. This puts the Railway (like many other businesses, especially in the tourism sector) under considerable financial strain as this is the time of year when the Railway would expect to be open and welcoming our early season visitors.

Your Association stands ready to help. Your Trustees have been meeting (by internet conferencing) more regularly than normal. We are ready to help with as many projects on the Railway as possible. In particular maintaining volunteer competency, which we know is a matter of concern for a lot of you. Also areas such as infrastructure repair, maintenance of rolling stock, buildings maintenance and anywhere else we can assist consistent with our charitable objects. We have asked the WSR plc for their plans and look forward to working together to implement them.  Your donations at this difficult time will be vital in sustaining the Railway and ensuring that it re-opens in full health.

Any donations to the WSRA will be held securely and only spent in accordance with charitable objects or your own directions to support the Railway. We will claim gift aid where we are able to boost the value of your donations by 25%.

You can also donate directly to the WSR plc to support day-to-day operations and we are seeking to understand how we can assist the WSR plc with that effort which has raised over £30,000 so far.

All organizations that make up the wider WSR family need your support and we are working to encourage co-operation and engagement between all parts of the railway family.

We have been and continue taking the first two practical steps.

Firstly, we continue to lead the effort to have robust volunteer recruitment processes in place to support the Railway when it re-opens, including keeping the contact system going.

Secondly, to provide a focus for the Railway’s volunteers, staff, supporters and wider community, we have established a YouTube Channel called ‘West Somerset Railway Television’ to carry short video programmes on aspects of the Railway. This has received a warm welcome already. To access it, search in YouTube for West Somerset Railway Television or click HERE.  Do you have a WSR story to tell?  It’s easier than you think and we would be pleased to hear from you. Please contact Diana at diana.ricketts-tanner@wsra.org.uk

We are also preparing for the 2020 WSRA AGM. That may require altered arrangement to cope with the present restrictions. We will write to you again about that.
Our Railway has faced difficult times in the past, not least in 1971 and 1980 and come through. We are sure that it will do again with your help.

Stay safe, follow the government guidelines and we look forward to seeing you on the West Somerset Railway again shortly.

Mike Sherwood
Chairman, WSRA
mike.sherwood@wsra.org.uk

 

https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/restoring4561
https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/railrenewal2020
https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/preserveandprotect
https://www.justgiving.com/westsomersetrailwayassociation

To support the PLC day-to-day operations
https://www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk/donations

 

After the West Somerset Railway plc (WSR) was forced to suspend operations and shut down on 17 March –  before the 2020 running season even got underway planned for Saturday 21 March –  an urgent appeal was launched on the company’s website for desperately-needed funds to help the 22-mile line heritage line get through the Coronavirus crisis.

And, in just two weeks since then, the WSR has received over £30,000 in donations and share purchases to help keep the railway’s wheels turning in the future!

This remarkable, strong show of support for the WSR has come from its many friends, supporters, stakeholders, shareholders, staff, volunteers and people across Somerset and the entire country, all of whom clearly want to see the railway survive and get through the second crisis to envelop the line in the last two years.

And the WSR website funding appeal has come at the same time as a number of other national appeals for emergency funds, including other heritage railways who are now all in the same boat as the WSR in having zero revenue and now facing considerable uncertainty over their futures, so its rapid success  in raising so much money is even more remarkable.

The money, which totals £30,140 to date (1 April), has come in the form of: website donations (£15,990); cheque donations (£100); WSR plc share purchases (£3,050), and WSR station group donations (£11,000), and it is going up day-by-day probably making it the most successful appeal for funds in the railway’s 44-year history.

And, it’s not just only been one-way traffic either as the WSR plc has itself given food from its now-closed Turntable Café in Minehead to the community via the ‘West Somerset Food Cupboard’, and also sourcing and donating suitable rubber gloves from its workshop as PPE to the local hospital too in a show of solidarity and support for both the area and the NHS.

The railway’s principal support organisation, the West Somerset Railway Association (WSRA), has also appealed for funds for locomotive restoration work and infrastructure works on the line.  These funds enable the WSRA, which is a registered charity, to fund work carried out by the operating company’s workshops and technical staff. This will have two benefits: it will fund employment for paid staff, whose jobs may otherwise be at risk, and it will allow us to use the enforced closure of services to accelerate our restoration works.

WSRA members and supporters have been generous in the past in funding other railway projects, such as the return to traffic of steam locomotive No. 9351 and the rail renewal projects last winter, and supporters are being asked if they can support the Railway’s restoration and renewal again at this difficult time and so help turn a negative into a positive.

UK tax payers can also give more money because a ‘Gift Aid’ donation to a registered charity such as the WSRA is boosted by a 25% uplift from the UK Government, so a donation of £100 is then worth £125.

Commenting on the success of the WSR fund-raising appeal to date, WSR plc Chairman Jon Jones-Pratt said: “I’ve been both humbled and pleasantly surprised by this great show of financial support for the West Somerset Railway, especially when the minds of many people will naturally be on just getting themselves and their families through the Covid 19 pandemic crisis safely. It shows just how much people care about the WSR and what it means to so many of our friends.

“And I’m also very pleased that we have also been able to give something back to the local community too with our donations of food to the local ‘Food Cupboard’ and some rubber gloves for the NHS – whilst we know it’s only something fairly small in the scheme of things at present, we felt we had to do something positive to show solidarity with the community and every little helps at present.

”Our own WSR family has once again stepped forward to help us too with shareholders and our station groups contributing significant money to our cause, plus the WSRA infrastructure appeal as well. The more money that we can raise now will all help our lovely railway line to continue steaming through the West Somerset  countryside, and so help to prevent the WSR from becoming a Coronavirus casualty.”

WSRA Chairman Mike Sherwood said:  “As a registered charity and the Railway’s key support body the WSRA is pleased to be able to provide essential WSR project funding and to claim an additional 25% on tax payer’s donations to support the railway at this difficult time.”

https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/railrenewal2020

https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/restoring4561

Or send your donations to:   WSRA, The railway station, Bishops Lydeard, TAUNTON, TA4 3BX.  Gift Aid declarations can be downloaded HERE