The 2022 Association Special Members’ Train – Farewell to Winston (4 a while!)
A report of the day’s events by Julie Miller
After the torrential downpours of the month, our annual Member’s Special Day was remarkably dry. With an ambitious timetable, thanks to Alex Ross’s hard work, the lucky ticket holders were honoured to be the final passengers on Winston Churchill’s last day of steam (4 a while!). The Special Events team, aided by Tracy, Maisie and Emily were well prepared. We arrived as the sun was rising and RH&DR staff were preparing our ‘crimson’ carriages. Jim Cleaver was there with his box of welcome packs, I had the the carriage window stickers and schedules, Tracy was ready to sell raffle tickets, and Simon Haynes was riding shotgun as our guard. Pat Newsome, our Chair, welcomed the members outside the front doors as they arrived. We took over the ticket office and the day began in earnest. The flooded tunnel had been pumped out the day before, and we were ready for an unforgettable day. 56 miles of travel ahead of us.
We left New Romney for Hythe, although a little late, we knew our driver Alan Botting would pull it back! Then from Hythe non-stop, steaming through Dungeness and back to New Romney. With just about time for a visit to the Heritage Centre we were back to Dungeness for Shepherd’s Pie. The catering staff were heroes, serving up two courses whilst RHDRA took over the restaurant. The mysterious local celebrity arrived to draw the raffle. In other words, we dragged driver Alan Botting from his break, and he picked out the winning tickets with his usual good humour and professionalism.
Then another non-stop to Hythe before our finish at New Romney. As the sun set, we arrived to the poignant sound of ‘The Last Post’. An emotional farewell to Winston as overhaul beckoned. Pat and Jim were standing by to say thank you to all for coming, and unprompted, heard from everyone what a great day they’d had. Thanks again to the team for making it happen and to the railway for all their assistance.
You can find photos of the day below and for a short video, click this link RHDRA Member’s Special Nov 2022 – YouTube