The winners of this year's Rail User Groups Awards have been announced. The nominations for Railfuture's 5th annual Awards for Rail User Groups were judged by a team of six Vice-Presidents - Paul Abell, Ian Brown, Barry Doe, Roger Ford, Chris Irwin, Stewart Palmer, and President Christian Wolmar. Chris Green, Lorna Slade and Alan Williams were unfortunately kept away from the judging by last-minute events. "To command the interest of that many Vice-Presidents is testament to their interest in and commitment to Railfuture, and to the unique nature of the awards themselves" said Roger Blake, who organised the awards. Roger Ford (aka Captain Deltic) wrote in his Informed Sources e-magazine "November starts with one of the year’s most enjoyable meetings. As an honorary Vice President of Railfuture I get to join the judging panel for the annual awards. For someone who spends too much time writing about high level policy in these difficult times, it is a refreshing change to help celebrate the successes at the grass roots."
And this year's winners are ..........
Six groups contested the award for Best newsletter, with the Gold award won by Huddersfield Penistone Sheffield Rail Users' Association. Furness Line Action Group won Silver, while the Friends of Reddish South Station (one train a week, in one direction only!) won a Commendation for their newsletter.
The award for Best website was contested by five groups, and the judges decided that the Gold award was won jointly by two of them - Copeland Rail Users' Group - http://www.crug.org.uk - and the Friends of Rose Hill Station, Marple - http://www.forhs.org.uk The judges' decision was that each website was an exemplar and displayed best practice in serving their quite different aims.
The award for Best campaign was won by the Cambridge Heath and London Fields Rail Users' Group - http://www.railwatch.org.uk/chlfug.html One judge said he was 'excited' by their report A brief history of the CHLFUG campaign.
Best campaigner for 2016 was Tony Smale, erstwhile editor of Rail User Express for many years, still the custodian of the national registers of RUGs and re-opening campaign groups, and now secretary of Wessex branch and the new Salisbury to Exeter Rail Users' Group. The award is made in memory of Railfuture stalwart Clara Zilahi.
The Best social media award went to the Friends of St. Anne's Stations, on the line to Blackpool South, for their use of Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Friends-of-St-Annes-Stations-214185165640850 North Cheshire Rail User Group won a Commendation for their YouTube video about the Halton Curve - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnCwHr7KzLg The judges hope that this award will attract more entries from user groups next year as it's the way the rail industry itself is developing.
The Friends of St. Anne's Stations also won the award for Best new group, awarded in memory of Cotswold Line Promotion Group founder Oliver Lovell. The Salisbury to Exeter Rail Users' Group won a Commendation.
The Judges' Special Award was this year given to Richard Crane, founder and chairman of the Bedford to Bletchley Rail Users' Association, for his 35 years of devoted work. Railfuture Vice-President Chris Green said "I have known Dick for thirty years and have found him tireless not just in the development of the Bedford - Bletchley line, but in the wider rail industry. He has run two first-rate railway discussion groups at Bletchley and Surbiton which attract record numbers of younger members at a time when railway supporters are all supposed to have grey hair! He is also a modest person who does not shout about his contributions to our industry."
The awards were presented at the autumn conference held in Birmingham on 12 November. Delegate John Ellis presented the Commendation and the Oliver Lovell Award for Best New Group in his capacity as Chair of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group of which Oliver was founder. Other Awards were presented by conference chair Stewart Palmer (Christian Wolmar being absent at short notice since his selection as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate in the Richmond Park by-election on 1 December!) Vice-President Lord Tony Berkeley, speaking to the conference immediately after the presentations and before delivering his own address, made some very appreciative comments about our Awards for Rail User Groups.
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