Volunteers from Swanage Railway are appealing to the public to help them raise £5,000 in five days – starting from Friday, October 16.
As part of Swanage Railway’s ‘Save Our Service’ appeal, the new appeal has a slight twist. Should the Railway reach its £5,000 target, a generous anonymous donor will match that £5,000, to give a total £10,000 boost to the Swanage Railway.
Launched at the end of March, 2020, the ‘Save Our Service’ appeal total so far stands at £300,208, some money short of the £360,000 target.
Randy Coldham, the Swanage Railway’s volunteer fund-raising chairman, said: “The ‘Save Our Service’ Appeal is the foundation of the Swanage Railway’s future and will allow our much-loved heritage line – rebuilt since 1976 – to be an important contributor to the Isle of Purbeck economy, and its tourist industry, for many years to come.
“The cornerstone of the Swanage Railway’s survival, the ‘Save Our Service’ Appeal has reached £300,000 which is a magnificent achievement for which we thank all the donors.
“The recent and much appreciated £233,200 grant from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund for upgraded passenger information and booking systems – as well as for continued Covid-19 protection measures – does not cover the day to day running and maintenance costs of the Swanage Railway.
“The ‘Save Our Service’ Coronavirus survival appeal is vital because it will help to ensure that the Swanage Railway can survive through the winter and be ready to provide whatever heritage train service will be allowed next year.
“To achieve this, it is important that we reach our appeal target of £360,000 and this generous £5,000 donation matching gesture by our anonymous donor will give us the platform to reach our vital target.
“From Friday, 16 October, to Tuesday, 20 October, 2020, every pound donated to our ‘Save Our Service’ Appeal will be doubled by our generous anonymous donor to a limit of £5,000.
“We’re very grateful and humbled by the public response to our ‘Save Our Service’ appeal which is vital because our restricted train service of fewer trains – due to the need for cleaning and longer boarding times with allocated seating – is less profitable with fewer seats available to maintain social distancing and keep our passengers safe.
“The Swanage Railway is still fighting for its survival in these extraordinary and unprecedented times. Several generations of dedicated volunteers have rebuilt the line from nothing since 1976 and there is still so much more to achieve,” added Randy who is a volunteer Swanage Railway signalman.
Located in Dorset’s Isle of Purbeck, the Swanage Railway carried more than 200,000 passengers in 2019 and contributed more than £15 million a year to the Isle of Purbeck economy.
The Swanage Railway resumed a socially distanced, allocated seating passenger train service between Norden and Swanage – hauled by a 1960s ex-British Railways Southern Region Class 33 heritage diesel locomotive – on Saturday, 11 July, 2020.
A one-way system was introduced at Corfe Castle station to keep passengers safe while Harman’s Cross station – between Corfe Castle and Swanage – and Herston Halt, on the outskirts of Swanage, still remain closed to the public.
Randy explained: “We decided to re-introduce our passenger train services in a restricted and staged way so we could become confident about the safe operation of each stage before proceeding to the next – the priority being to keep our passengers and staff safe.”
The public can easily donate by phone to the ‘Save Our Service’ appeal by texting ‘SOS’ to 70470 to donate £10 which costs £10 plus a standard rate message or other amounts between £1 and £20.
Clearly marked ‘Save Our Service’ appeal, cheques can also be sent to the Swanage Railway Trust at Station House, Station Approach, Swanage, Dorset, BH19 1HB.
To make a ‘Save Our Service’ donation by PayPal, a Fast Payment through Internet banking or by a cheque in the post, visit www.saveourservice.co.uk while donations can also be made via the Swanage Railway’s Facebook page.Enjoy more Heritage Railway reading in the four-weekly magazine. Click here to subscribe.