‘We are absolutely thrilled’: Joy at national award nominations
PUBLISHED: 09:53 23 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:09 23 September 2020
A poignant performance based on the 1938 Kindertransport arrivals at Lowestoft station has been shortlisted for a national award.
The play – Suitcase 1938 – which was performed by students as part of the town’s annual Holocaust memorial service is among 12 projects that have been nominated for this year’s National Community Rail Awards.
Community Rail Norfolk, the parent organisation of the Bittern Line and Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnerships operating across Norfolk and North Suffolk – together with the Lowestoft Central Project – have been placed as finalists 12 times across seven categories for the awards being held in December.
Award categories include a joint initiative between the Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership and Network Rail – which saw a £60m infrastructure modernisation project with the replacement of the mechanical signalling system and upgrades to numerous level crossings – nominated in the ‘Best Marketing or Communications Campaign’.
The Wherry Lines is also finalists in the ‘Involving Children and Young People’ category for education work with the National Lottery funded Water, Mills and Marshes Landscape Project that saw 220 pupils from eight Norfolk and Suffolk primary schools learning more about the Broads National Park.
A collaboration between Lowestoft Town Council, the Ormiston Denes Academy (ODA), the Lowestoft Central Project and the Wherry Lines saw the town’s annual Holocaust memorial service expanded to include a special promenade performance by ODA students of the play Suitcase 1938 in the Parcels Office public exhibition space.
Selected as a finalist in the ‘Best Community Engagement’ category, the event also recognised the town’s role as a destination for more than 500 Jewish children rescued from Europe in December 1938 as part of the Kindertransport initiative.
Julie Mayo, transition and co-curriculum projects manager at ODA, said: “We are so pleased to hear that this event has been shortlisted for an award.
“Our students worked so hard in preparation and gave a moving portrayal of their version of Suitcase 1938, based on the Kindertransport arrivals in Great Britain.
“As an academy we recognise and commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day and it was especially poignant to be able to join in with the activities and perform at Lowestoft station, the arrival point of one of the trains of refugee children.”
A partnership between the Wherry Lines, the Lowestoft Central Project, Network Rail and Lowestoft’s Heritage Open Days Festival is recognised in the ‘Tourism and Heritage’ category, after several hundred people were given a rare opportunity to visit the town’s signal box and see it in full operation before it was replaced with more modern technology in early 2020.
The 2019 Heritage Open Days Festival saw some 15,000 people enjoy a host of events, attractions and activities across Lowestoft.
The hard work of a host of station adopters has been highlighted in the ‘It’s Your Station’ Silver Award category with volunteers at Brundall Gardens and Reedham Stations recognised for their horticultural skills and community engagement work.
Somerleyton Station has been recognised while on the Bittern Line, volunteers that care for Gunton, Roughton Road and West Runton stations have all been placed as finalists in the bronze category.
Held annually, the Community Rail Awards celebrate the achievements of more than 70 Community Rail Partnerships across the UK and the efforts of several hundred volunteer station adopter groups.
Chairman of Community Rail Norfolk, Peter Mayne, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have been awarded finalist status in so many categories at this year’s awards.
“I congratulate everyone that worked so hard across a host of activities and events.”
Community Rail Development Officer, Martin Halliday, added: “Our partnerships work closely with Network Rail, Greater Anglia and the Lowestoft Central Project and partner with several schools, the Broads National Park and the Water Mills and Marshes Landscape Project to undertake numerous initiatives and activities annually.
“We are therefore delighted that many of these collaborations and the hard work of our volunteers, has resulted in such an unprecedented number of national award nominations.”
Stephen Deaville, senior communications manager for Network Rail, said: “We’re delighted to be a finalist alongside the Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership for the communications campaign to highlight the major signalling upgrades completed across the area in February.
“The transformation of the Wherry Lines signalling system was a step change for the railway, ushering in a new era of technological operation and celebrating the retirement of the old Victorian mechanical semaphore.
Andrew Farrell, programme manager for the Water, Mills and Marshes Broads Landscape Partnership Scheme, said: “We are so proud of the students and the amazing work that they created through working in partnership with the Wherry Lines to create the Art on the Line initiative.
“The railways are an important part of the story of the Broads National Park and we’re thankful for the chance to engage young people with this important heritage and for the recognition of all the hard work that’s gone into this fantastic project.”
Paul King, chairman of Lowestoft Heritage Open Days, said: “We were thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with the Lowestoft Central Project, Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership and Network Rail for our festival in 2019.
“To have such a rare opportunity for the public to visit the signal box provided a fantastic boost in our promotion of the festival to a much wider audience, resulting in our most successful year on record.”
Vice chairman of the Bittern Line Community Rail Partnership, David Pearce, said: “A huge well done to all of our volunteers for their efforts this year. “It is extremely gratifying that the work they undertake in keeping Bittern Line stations as welcoming gateways to their communities is being recognised at a national level and to be placed as finalists this year is most creditable.”
Brundall Gardens won the Best Small Station category in the Greater Anglia region during 2019.
On hearing that they have also reached the final of the national awards, Greg Chandler from the station adopter group said: “All the team are absolutely thrilled that we have been placed as finalists in this year’s awards.
“The station is looking terrific and we are very proud to be recognised nationally for our efforts.”
Alan Neville, Greater Anglia’s Community and Customer Engagement Manager, said: “We are extremely proud of our Community Rail Partnerships who work tirelessly to promote the railway.
“A great deal of hard work and passion goes into each of the award-nominated projects and it’s great to see them receiving national recognition.”
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