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Mystery donor leads railway to hit £1m target
THE Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR) has passed its £1 million appeal target to repair a collapsed embankment, thanks to a generous mystery donor.
A £7,000 donation was made after the anonymous benefactor simply asked how much was needed to complete the appeal and promptly stumped up the remaining money.
Final track and signals works are due to be completed as early as next month when the first train for more than two years could run between Toddington and Winchcombe.
Work has already been completed on the ‘Chicken Curve’ part of the line to reconnect the severed heritage railway just north of Winchcombe station.
The collapse, which happened at the beginning of January last year, was one of a number of setbacks to plague the volunteer- run enterprise, including the loss of about £60,000 in revenue after heavy snow in 2010 and repair work to a similar embankment collapse just outside Gotherington.
A £1 million emergency appeal to fund the repair work on the Chicken Curve was launched by pop music mogul and railway enthusiast Pete Waterman in 2010 after the railway’s chairman, Malcolm Temple, declared the railway had been ‘brought to its knees’ by the catalogue of disasters.
“We have been astounded by the huge support the railway has received,” he said. “It’s clear that the former ‘Honeybourne Line’ is held in deep affection by many people. The £1 million emergency appeal immediately struck a chord with both local people and the heritage railway movement as a whole.”
The appeal was boosted by a £70,000 donation from magazine Steam Railway which ran its own appeal in aid of the GWR along with individual donations.
“It is remarkable that so many people have contributed – whether it’s £1 or £10,000, it has enabled the £1 million mark to be passed remarkably quickly – and at a time when many families are struggling during the recession,” said Mr Temple.
“I’m especially grateful to the gentleman who donated the £7,000 that took us to the target.
I can promise everyone who has offered their support that this will not be forgotten.”
A major celebratory gala is being planned for next May, which will include a host of activities and visiting celebrity locomotives.