Avanti West Coast has helped a youngster’s dreams come true with VIP tour of Stafford station for an afternoon of trainspotting heaven.
Dillon Jones, 12, has his heart set on a career on the railway and was invited to join the Avanti West Coast team where he got the chance to try his hand at a number of duties including making his own station announcements.
Dillon, who has autism, is a passionate train enthusiast and a regular at Stafford station. On a recent visit, his first since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was presented with his own Avanti West Coast pin badge.
After his mother, Jo, posted a message of thanks on a local Facebook Group, the pair were invited back by the team for a behind the scenes visit.
She said: “Dillon was made up to get his pin badge. He wanted to show it to everyone and tell them he worked for Avanti West Coast.
“He loves his trains. They play a big part in his life and how he copes with his autism. The team at the station were so kind, patient and understanding. To get invited back was the icing on the cake. It has really boosted his confidence and his dreams now seem more realistic. Thank you for making my little man’s week.”
Mark Sefton, Customer Service Team Leader for Avanti West Coast at Stafford, said: “It was great to be able to invite Dillon along to the station for some hands-on, real-life experience.
“He did a great job and we hope it’s whetted his appetite for a possible career on the railways. At a time when the world is having to deal with so much, it was great to see that passion and his wonderful smile.”
As part of the afternoon, Dillon was presented with some Avanti West Coast gifts as well as a 12-month subscription to Railcam, the website that allows users to access real time footage of trains throughout the UK.
Simon Deane, Railcam News and Features Editor said: “Railcam is delighted to join with Avanti West Coast in providing Dillon with a memorable day. The COVID-19 pandemic had caused many traditional rail enthusiasts to furlough their hobby. Railcam has provided a virtual world of spotting from home. With over 100 camera streams available we think Dillon may be spoilt for choice.”
Devon and in particular the South Devon coastline has long since been a favourite for both rail enthusiasts and travellers alike.
When Railcam was approached by a potential host living track-side in the area, they took notice and sprang into action! Conversations took place, photographs and videos were viewed, and very quickly a date was penciled in to attend site and install the newest location to the Railcam portfolio.
Railcam is delighted to be offering two cameras. The first will be available via the Railcam site and available to subscribed members. Focusing on the mainline, a few hundred yards from Shaldon Bridge is the first of the Dahua PTZ cameras. Although it is a PTZ, the view will be static for most of the time to give the best vantage point for passing traffic on the rails.
There should be plenty of GWR action featuring class 800/802 IET trains, local sprinters, and of course the HST Castle sets! Also featured will be the CrossCountry services using Voyagers and HST sets. Railcam will also be able to show the many steam and diesel tours that pass and return on tours to Paignton, Plymouth, and Penzance.
Railcam’s second Dahua PTZ will be available on YouTube and is the first specialist scenic camera. The stream will cover the Teign Estuary, giving views from the Ness in Shaldon, Shaldon Bridge, and Ringmore as it pans from 7 am until dusk, to the edge of Dartmoor and back. There will be some railway within the view but the focus is based much more on the beautiful scenery.
Teignmouth to Newton Abbot was opened in 1846 by the South Devon Railway Company and was originally an extension of the Broad gauge Atmospheric Railway. The South Devon Railway was amalgamated into the GWR in 1876 and the broad gauge was converted to standard gauge in 1892.
Teignmouth itself boast’s a little bit of history. Teignmouth was the last place in mainland UK to be invaded by a foreign power when the French raided. Shaldon Bridge was once the longest wooden structure in Europe and is 1671 feet in length, and Charles Babbage, the mathematician who originated the idea of a programmable computer, also lived here for some years. His thoughts on Railcam and the internet would no doubt be very interesting!
Railcams camera installations take a lot of work and equipment to achieve. In all, the installation team had a round trip of over 700 miles, a large car filled with equipment and three team members spending the best part of three days to complete the task. There was also a kind host who not only provided the location but, supplied cups of coffee and bacon sandwiches to keep the team fuelled.
Once on-site final positions need to be agreed, safe working access risk assessed, internet speed checked, routers checked, electricity supplies checked and then the unpacking begins.
An installation is far more complicated than it sounds. Once the cameras and microphones are secured the installers can begin the process of connecting the new location to the Railcam system. Sometimes it’s smooth and other days little glitches are sent to test the most competent installer. From start to finish the team spent around 8 hours on-site for this installation.
The end result is what the Railcam supporter gets to view and has now been achieved many times to provide the huge choice of locations now available.
Railcam Director Andrew Jebb said, ” We are delighted to be adding another new location to Railcam’s extensive UK coverage. The Teignmouth cameras give our viewers the chance to enjoy both the railway and the beautiful scenery of the Teign estuary.”
He continued, ” As always, Railcam and its supporters are indebted to a generous host who has a passion for sharing a personal view with the rest of the World. The launch of our first specialist scenic camera, as well as a railway one, just shows how much Railcam loves this location.”