Many members of the Association will no doubt have read the latest national railway press which paints a gloomy picture of what is happening across the Heritage Railway sector throughout the country. All are closed until further notice with paid staff on furlough and volunteers in lockdown. Each organisation will have their own particular issues with their level of debt and continuing costs – regardless of the fact they have no – or very little income coming in.
So the RH&DR is not unique. Every organisation will be looking to their supporters to help in the best way that is appropriate – and many have covid19 specific appeals for funds ongoing. Your Trustees are currently discussing the best options for supporting the RH&DR – which of course must fit within the remit of our charitable status.
The latest issue of Marshlander has just been published – and assuming our printers continue to function normally, the next issue should be out in July. Granted there is no prospect of members being able to take advantage of the reduced price travel on the railway – but that has never been the prime function of The Association – only a fringe benefit. It is, in any case, a gift from the Railway to members and not a right of membership. We are very thankful to the Board and Management of the RHDR for making the free and reduced travel available.
So until the picture becomes clearer – the best way that you the membership can support the railway is by continuing to renew subscriptions on line as normal; and of course donate to either the General Fund or to Special Projects at any time as well to ensure that we have the funds to help as and when it becomes appropriate.
In the meantime the Trustees wish you all well and look forward to meeting as many of you as possible when we come out the other side.
The RHDR is temporarily closing from 21st March due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19). Please see https://www.rhdr.org.uk/special-events/temporary-closure-update/ for details and revisit occasionally for the latest updates.
Clearly, people travelling in a small, close environment with significant numbers of others offers considerable risk and such journeys cannot be described as essential. Therefore, the Board had already decided that operation of public train services must be suspended with immediate effect and with the latest Government instructions, it is clear that this likely to be for a lengthy period.
Knowing how much the railway is valued by Members, not to mention its employees, volunteers and other supporters, we know everyone will be very concerned by this news. We know the Board intend to repay that support by the best possible management of the finances and safety of the Railway and its people at all times now and in the future. The Association stand with the Board in these intentions and we will be seeking the most effective ways to help the Railway through this period.
Following an extraordinary video-conference of your Trustees on 19th March, it was agreed that as per Charity Commission guidelines the AGM due to be held on 30th May 2020 will now be postponed. We will advise members as soon as we are in a position to set another date.
For the duration – and beyond – of this global crisis, whilst there is much which is outside of our control, there is much we can do ourselves to make life easier. As an initial step we would strongly encourage all of you who are able to, but have not yet done so, to add your email addresses to our online membership system. The link is www.rhdra.org/renew. This will enable us to communicate important decisions about the Railway to you as and when they occur. You will also see that we have some major matters to discuss at our AGM and email contact may help us keep making progress even while we wait for the virus to abate.
For those who do not have or use email access, some form of positive notification from you, either by phone or by post to the membership team that you are unable to communicate electronically will greatly help us.
The Trustees are carrying on the business of the Association, and liaising with the Railway Board and Management electronically – so although we are socially isolated on an administrative front it is very much business as usual.