Although not really part of the Master Draper story I went to a most heartwarming and positive dinner on Friday night that might be of interest.
Abandoning temporarily my City duties I travelled out to Southend for the sixth Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP for short) Community Rail Awards held at the the Cliffs Pavilion, Westcliff-on-Sea.
ACoRP is a small group that aims to bring new life for rural lines. They do this by setting up partnerships that help make stations and services more attractive by enlisting volunteer support, encourage local businesses to play a part and nurture links with the railway industry. More details are at http://www.acorp.uk.com/
I have been associated with the community rail movement since it gathered momentum about ten years ago. At the first two Rail Awards in 2005/6 I helped give out the prizes.
It now follows on from the National Rail Awards of the previous week - I am one of the judges for these. The two events could not be more different. National Rail Awards, rightly, focusses on big business and is a glitzy celebration of the industry. The Community Rail Awards recognise a deeper strand of the the nation's relationship with it railways. The Conservatives may talk a lot about the big society and localism. Community rail has got there already.
Compared with a Park Lane event production values were a lot less lavish but it was, in the true spirit of community rail, a fun evening staged by an enthusiatic and able team on a shoe-string budget.
Overall a great evening. Neil Buxton and his willing band of helpers made the evening a great success. Yet again they did a great job to show how railways and the community can work together.