Prior to working for the Isle of Wight Community Rail Partnership I had no experience of transport at all. Nil. Nada, not a jot, but I had got plenty of experience working in the community as a development officer.
Therefore it wasn’t too difficult with my skills to step into the role of Rail Development Officer for a community rail partnership as the work was predominantly working with schools and the community to increase passenger growth to encourage sustainable transport.
I have learnt a great deal about the transport industry in the 4 years I have been working for the IW CRP and in my additional role as CRO in this last year for Lymington-Brockenhurst.
When I first came into the role, a bogey was something my children giggled about; I now know it’s the structure that contains the wheels and axles. I also know how passionate people can be about transport and how important it is that transport providers work together for seamless transport, encouraging more people to use a network to access work, school or play, thus reducing our carbon footprint.
However this isn’t a perfect world and transport providers, certainly in this financial climate have to keep a firm eye on their profit margins whilst developing their business growth. That’s where the CRP comes in, to support their stakeholders but to encourage lateral thinking, with a partnership approach to raise our profiles and promote community goodwill.
I am fortunate to have two excellent partnerships that work well together for collective outcomes that benefit all. With the success of the projects on the Island it has been relatively easy for me to replicate the projects on the mainland, though funding is always an issue that dogs projects and their success depends on programmes such as the BIG Lottery fund, the Arts Council and so on.
However over the last few years I have become well known for being creative in finding funding to support initiatives and have found increasing ways to lever match funding in for projects that particularly support learning and skills.
I have found also to date the support from New Forest District Council (NFDC), Hampshire County Council (HCC) and the New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA) invaluable, financially but also for introductions to the mainland agencies, services and organisations needed to deliver projects.
This ‘blog’ will be updated when I can and I hope it will give you a clearer insight to my role as Community Rail Officer.
May 22nd 2009
Projects are going from strength to strength both on the Island and the mainland. The support for TravelSafe grows and I have now raised 12k for the project to start. I will be meeting the 15 young people from Priestlands on June 1st who are keen to be involved with the project to go over the specification and I am hoping that the contact with Brockenhurst and request for partnership working will be followed up after half term.
The money raised will now enable us to run a TravelSafe week with Stop Watch Theatre, who will be promoting safe responsible travel through theatre and workshops to young people at the school and neighbouring schools.
The poster and credit card pull out will have the same info as the Island poster just different local relevant images reflecting their transport needs and I hope it will be unveiled at the beginning of the TravelSafe week in October.
Life has been truly truly mad in the last couple of months and today I am catching up on admin for the partnership which gets out of hand more and more each year!
Yesterday was a lovely day, which started early with the breakfast meeting in the Toll House on Southampton Road speaking at the breakfast meeting the Chamber of Commerce holds each month.Great breakfast and new contacts and they had tomato sauce, a must with any fry up!
I then went to Brock station to deliver the 10 mature hanging baskets the Medina Centre on the Island had grown for SWT. The baskets didn’t just shed every petal in my car but a large family of spiders of varying sizes and snails. These families of both arachnids and molluscan or Gastropoda have made themselves at home in the MPV and have been busy weaving intricate webs of fantastic design both spun and slimed on the windows! Therefore I was delighted to drop off my load, much to both Ian and Karl’s amusement at the station (they won’t laugh when they get the valet bill!)
Yeah ‘funny’ Ian and Karl!
For the plants next year I am hoping to use a local day care centre for adults with moderate to severe special needs who grow plants, which as is for the Island, a wonderful way of bringing in extra revenue to support the centre.
It was then off to Brockenhurst C of E Primary school where both Chris Gregory from the NFNPA and I were to give prizes out to the youngsters who one and certificates to the runners up.When I say prizes I mean the book marks to the runners up and bus passes for 5 groups for the open top tour bus around the New Forest, as the actual art prizes were on the Isle of Wight. Yep, great, I know. We arrived at the school, dodging donkey pooh whilst admiring great big hairy beasts with horns (so different from Sandown?) to get the certificates ready with the correct names, rather than ‘Any Murray’ who wasn’t known to be at the school and upon investigation was actually the person in the picture playing tennis.
I then had to confess to the school that the art prizes for the 5 winners were still on the Isle of Wight due to a late and particularly nasty attack of frenzied and manic activity I suffered from late Wednesday afternoon, the result of which saw me rendered speechless (a very unusual condition) on finding the art shop closed with a cheerful sign saying they would be reopening at 10 a.m. the next day. Given the shop is in Cowes and the prize giving was to be at the same time in Brockenhurst, it did not bode well for a truly successful prize giving.
Still it was fine, the children were just beautiful and again I was just so impressed by the school and the clearly high standard of work the children produce.
Next it was off to Lymington, stopping at the valet service outside Brockenhurst to do petal and beastie removal. The guys running this service are so efficient, helpful and really good I would urge you to experience their service. My car has never looked so clean in such a short time, it was magic. However there are a few spiders still in residence as I was faced with literally when I opened my boot this morning!
I then went to meet the lovely Colin Taylor for a rare lunch, who is a keen CRP supporter and helped us out hugely for the 150 year celebration last year in running a photographic competition sponsored by SWT. This saw a good turn out on the day of photographers from far and wide who could be spotted in fields between Lym and Brock to get the best shot of the Battle of Britain locomotive pulling the carriages packed full of passengers.
Colin I hope is going to help us tackle setting up ‘Friends of Lymington-Brockenhurst’ and I shall be setting up a meeting soon with other interested parties soon and if you should like to be involved, please email me, I would love to hear from you.
Lunch was at the fantastically place Lymington Town Sailing Club, where we sat outside and enjoyed the sunshine and hazy, distant view of the Isle of Wight.
Next week (26th May) we will hear whether we have been successful for the BIG lottery grant ‘Awards for All’. This hoped for 10k will be kick starting the remainder of the sign posting project including the ‘Rail Trail’ for which the partnership have enlisted the help of a local artist ‘Trudi Lloyd Williams. Trudi will be working with local primary school children to do pavers using recycled local materials to lead the way.
The day finished with taking a few photographs ‘On my way home’ which can be seen in the gallery for those interested.
Have a great bank holiday weekend, the sun is going to shine!
10th July 2009
I can’t believe where the time goes!
As usual I have been frantically busy with both partnerships, with some projects ending and some just beginning.
The map board for Brockenhurst is being produced as I type and will be installed in a matter of weeks ready for the tourists in the school holidays to come and hopefully spend time in Brockenhurst and the surrounding area. (see projects)
Unfortunately we were not successful for the Awards for All fund, which has paused the ‘Rail Trail’ and signposting project in Lymington. I say paused as have every confidence we will find the money for this project.
The people times the vehicle squared survey (PV2) conducted in late March on Gosport Street at the top of Station Street showed whilst there did need to be some traffic calming put in place, the site did not warrant a crossing. Some plans have now been drawn up for three possible sites one of which will be determined by a public consultation and work with the Town Council.
TravelSafe is on the Island coming to a close with the production of posters, credit sized card pull out information and a DVD all to support the scheme of safe responsible travel to all using public transport. Here the project has just started and Priestlands school will be ‘on location’ on the 20th July with the CRO and Hampshire Constabulary’s photographer to gather transport images to then create their own TravelSafe poster and cards which will go around the New Forest to schools, community organisations, health centres and libraries. The poster will be produced over the summer ready for a launch in October at the start of TravelSafe week.
Both stations are looking as usual fantastic with the added planters and hanging baskets from the Medina Centre on the island, a centre for adults with moderate to severe learning difficulties. I am keen to find an organisation locally to grow the plants and make more planters ready for next year so if anyone has any suggestions I would welcome your thoughts.
The CRP had their Annual General Meeting last Friday (3rd July) which went well and lots of ideas for the CRP were discussed as well as re-electing of Mel Kendal as Chair and appointing Chris Gregory from New Forest National Park Authority as the new secretary of the CRP. Mike Headerly has stepped down as secretary and the CRP’s thanks were minuted for his hard work in getting the CRP started.
Finally I am still ‘hot desking’ at New Forest District Council in Lymington as we have a tiny technical hitch of a lack of power upstairs at the station. Will update you as to where I am when I know!
I will be off in August as I take all my annual leave in one ‘hit’ to be with my children in their summer holidays and will be holidaying in Cowes! If I don’t update the site before I go, have a lovely summer, here hoping the sun will shine and people will be out and about using our lovely railway, I certainly will and 1st trip is Thomas with my girls, the smaller one at nearly 3 a passionate fan.
September 14th 2009
I can’t believe we are in September and the trees are all turning at a speed that (forgive the pun) leafs me breathless and not a little sad. The summer already seems so far away with me ferreting out all my winter woollies that I’m sure I only put away last week! Though all the seasons are stunning in their own way I do get that ‘back to school’ feeling when an eagerly anticipated season arrives and departs so quickly.
I took all of my saved annual leave at once to spend time with the family and to see my brother in Cadiz, where he lives and runs a back packing hostel called ‘Casa Caracol’ which means ‘Snail House’. The website for this fine place will be up and running soon and Cadiz and the experience of ‘backpacking’ for the younger traveller is a must.
These weeks sped past with a kaleidoscope of activity ranging from Cowes week, Cadiz, swimming, sailing, the last minute frantically put together barbeque, the constant mountain of ironing and DIY!
I have selected a few summer photos photo’s……….enjoy!
Here we are at nearly Halloween, the clocks have just gone back, which I hate and again as I write this blog I am acutely aware of how time is racing towards end off year. We have had some hugely positive things happen and also not so encouraging too. Unfortunately even though we have 12k funding in place to start TravelSafe on the mainland, Priestland’s School have withdrawn their support with the young peoples involvement, which given the massive outcomes both geographically and for the pupils themselves is a great shame. But that’s where we are.
Brockenhurst College however have expressed an interest to deliver the project, which from a Policing point of view has far better outcomes with increased numbers of young people who use public transport going to and from the college every day.
So, end of half term this week and I am keen to really kick start this project forward to benefit the mainland as the Island has with the considerable outcomes this project brings.
Still on the TravelSafe note I am keen to deliver through drama and part of its message, safe and responsible behaviour through drama and workshops. This is going to be delivered on the island at the end of February and I am keen to deliver it here before the Easter holidays.
The Brockenhurst Church of England Primary School trip was a huge success, though the organising of the day out to the Steam railway on the Isle of Wight for 180 pupils plus 18 staff was a logistical nightmare and required precision planning not seen since possibly the organising of D Day.
South West trains and Wightlink were as usual fantastic in giving free travel to the school, which had to travel in 2 groups for safety due to the sheer size of the groups and the capacity of both the trains and ferries.
4 staggered busses from Wightbus took the groups to Havenstreet for the visist and back for 2 separate ferry and train journeys back to Brockenhurst!
Read more about the day in events……………
Tomorrow30th October, I am meeting Jim Cornell at Lymington Town Station with Brockenhurst College to discuss a new and exciting venture with the upstairs renovation/refurbishment to house the college as potential tenants to deliver training in the community. I will update the projects page next week when I know more!!!!
You will have seen that there is to be an event to mark the withdrawal of the slam door heritage trains in May next year. The CRP is going to be taking the lead on this for the railway event working in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and the town to look at a feasible, reasonable and realistic supporting event that will it is hoped, bring people into the town.
The working group is being led by Chair Mel Kendal and it is hoped that the event will be along the lines of the successful 150 year celebration held in July last year.
So, busy as always….not an hour in the day wasted and always running to catch up. The CRP are starting to meet more regularly again, which is good but does take up time which might make me a witch, which brings us back neatly to Halloween and the fact that we get no trick or treats at our door as we offer ‘the healthy option’ of a huge bowl of fruit! It works really well, you should try!
OK….and the time has gone where!!!
Lots and lots of exciting things happening though and 3 major projects for the LB CRP!
Lymington Marsh 20th January 2011
May 20th 2011
So here I am, sat in front of my computer on a Friday early evening in May and still working. It’s been BONKERS these last few months with projects for the mainland needing my attention. This is sometimes difficult to make sure that they are as perfect in their delivery as I want them to be with just the two days a week, which, with my attention to detail (some would say control freak) is frustrating as I want to be involved in as much as possible as I just love seeing the delivery of a project which has been so long in the planning, with both meetings and bid writing. From the initial concept to an opening or an unveiling; and maybe later, if the project is good enough, an award.
So the projects at the moment with the line guide and rail trail have been frustrating as they have been rewarding.
Firstly, the Line Guide has been put on hold until we can get as many of the attractions in the New Forest, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth/Southsea/Gosport involved. We have been selling this concept to well know attractions as ‘car free tourism’ as their commitment to being green, as just that….asking only for at worst 10% off an admission ticket to an attraction, at best 2 for 1.
With a large area shown in a map on a 14 page DL leaflet with attractions and transport links in between, a wide distribution of 70,000 from Waterloo down to the coast and 30,000 on the Island being distributed at tourist information points, in the Beacon along the corridor and hand delivered by volunteers, you would think this would be something jumped at. Those who have been involved in the Line Guide in past years were on board from the start, knowing what a great deal it was being promoted, free, in a popular leaflet.
Those who weren’t haven’t and it has led to a decision to postpone for delivery of the guide until Jan 1st 2012, and I have a cunning plan!
The map, produced by artist Alan Rowe has already been produced and paid for by DCRDF funding I got in, in the last financial year. Rather than loose impetus on this guide project, I have decided to up the ante and use the publication for 8 map boards I am in the process of going for funding for. The map boards will be placed at;
- Lymington Pier
- Newport (I hope bus station)
- Ryde Esplanade
- Ryde Pier
We will and are including all attractions for the New Forest, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth, even if they haven’t agreed to be on the Line Guide, as I feel this, when they see a printed mounted version of what it will look like, will hopefully agree to support the car free tourism further. If not, we simply take them off, which the artist has assured me is simple enough to do.
The map boards will also include 4 winning pieces of artwork from 8 junior schools taking part in ‘Healthy Activities in My Town’.
A bigger project from a big project….Pheeeeeeewwwww
The other really big project for LB CRP is with artist Trudi Lloyd Williams working with Lymington Juniors on the Rail Trail project ‘Finding the Way’
I have successfully sourced, to date £41,000 for this project, which will include improved signage, 2 map boards showing Lymington town.
This again will have 8 winning designs from the juniors, already picked out from an art competition at the beginning of May, 4 on both boards, showing healthy activities in the town and nearby New Forest.
The boards will go outside Lymington Town Station and St Thomas Church at the top of the beautiful town. In between, there will be a ‘Rail Trail’ showing the most accessible route to the town, with pavers worked on by the artist and the children and their families. This was to use elements of the ‘Healthy Activities’ and heritage i.e. sailing and swimming in the newly restored baths in the town by the sea.
When Trudi and I first met, two years ago to discuss this venture, we opened it up to families of the children at the school. There was a great response, though we at the time were unlucky with the bid. This is I think because it wasn’t as broad or inclusive as the 2nd bid I put into Awards for All. Now the funding has just increased to being double what we originally envisaged and so have the number of children and families who want to be involved.
This week saw the completion of the workshops, which I was able to attend one, where I was just so impressed with both the pupils, teacher ‘Nikky Moosun’ and the artist, Trudi Lloyd Williams. To see her work please follow the link, she is inspiring in the way she works with everybody. http://www.trudilloydwilliams.co.uk/home
Unfortunately on the day that I was due to go and photograph the family workshops, my daughter was sick and I was tied to the Island, but the photos came through today from those who took part and they are just great, as were the numbers, that topped 350 participants. I always say, the proof of a good project is the uptake of those wishing to take part, and boy they did. Please go to the project page and gallery to see the results……so far.
When you work with people that do the job and just get on with it, can see the benefits without a lot of explanation, it is so refreshing.
So I salute you Trudi, Nikki, students, Richard Bastow (highways HCC who when asked if he could help put the pavers in said “yes and I can get some further funding to support this project” How BRILLIANT is that!!!!??? I salute you attractions who didn’t worry about the line guide and knew the project would take care of itself, with only promotion to those involved, ‘incremental growth’ the Chair of IoW CRP calls it and agree.
Working in Community rail in this economic climate has been and is still challenging, but when there are folk who just want to see continued success for the lines, communities and integrated transport, again I have to salute our partners, SWT, Wightlink, and now, newly on board Wilts and Dorset and Blue Star.
Now the time is nearly wine O’clock at 6.55….and I think that’s quite enough work done in this hectic week that was…….
p.s. for those interested….we have a brand new project being launched on Monday for IoW CRP…… www.isleofwightcrp.co.uk