Ray fulfils her childhood train driver dream at the South Tynedale Railway

RAY Bell has become the first female driver on the South Tynedale Railway (STR) for a decade.

A railway enthusiast since her childhood, Ray has just fulfilled a 40-year dream to pass out as a driver.

She has joined the volunteer crew at the 2ft-gauge heritage line and is now driving diesel-hauled trains over the newly extended line to Slaggyford in Northumberland.

She passed out as a diesel driver in July after just seven weeks of practice runs with an experienced driver, and now she wants to qualify as a steam driver, too.

Ray Bell in the cab of 1952-built Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0DM No. 4 Naworth. STR

Ray said: “As a four year old visiting a railway at Christmas, I fell in love with the noise of the engines and that distinct railway smell.

“I’m now infatuated with this exquisite line and taking passengers through the beautiful North Pennines countryside is an absolute joy.”

STR volunteer liaison officer Alan Farrar said: “If you have a desire to drive, a fervour for firing, an appetite for admin or a voracity for volunteering in general, then we would love to hear from you.”

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