I wasn’t planning on volunteering at Kirklees Light Railway this weekend, but a shortage of staff saw me hold my hand up, and before I knew it, I was down to help out on both Saturday and Sunday as Thomas the Tank Engine arrived at the railway.
I have just returned home and I am yet again tired, but this time, I really don’t mind. I had fun the first time I volunteered, but today was just another level.
I arrived good and early, try to get the lay of the land. Signing in, I started to recognise routines and procedures people were doing. I was quickly collard by a member of staff and asked to go and help clean out the coaches. They were pretty OK, but I went down doing a sweep.
It wasn’t long and we were waiting for 9:45 and the Fat Controller made an appearance. He welcomed everybody and we all had to supervise, making sure people knew where to go, and kept back from the platform edge while Thomas broke through the ribbon to start the day.
During the day I was assigned to assist Mavis the engine. In preparation I had watched so many Thomas cartoons on YouTube, could pronounce the name of Ffarquhar Quarry where she normally works. I tried to memorise the names of the other engines, but throughout the day kept slipping to their real names and not their Thomas counterparts.
The sun came out mid morning and the atmosphere was fantastic. Plenty of people asking me questions, getting the chance to interact with everybody, operating the turn table when our engine needed to be out of the way for the main train service, and a little bit of acting when Sir Topham Hat sent me to go and collect his box of valuables – which I had to then ‘trip’ and drop, smashing his tea service – that was fun.
I learnt a lot today with regard to the railway, got some things wrong such as giving the turn table too hard a push, some arm signals not quite as clear as they should be, but the driver I was working with was great and tutored me, and I came away with even more
I had a brilliant day, and to top it all I had a heartfelt thankyou for helping make the day of an entire family – of course, that went to everybody working today. Seeing childrens faces having fun was brilliant and I look forward to it all again tomorrow!