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Training and Volunteering
Queen's Award for Voluntary Service
For six decades the Bluebell Railway has been serving the community
  • The organisation has grown to provide a community service at the forefront of its sector, with a large volunteer force of more than 700 people providing thousands of hours of free labour.
  • The contribution of the volunteers of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society to the local community was recognised in 2010 by the granting of The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service
  • The Bluebell Railway Trust provides the funds to enable young people to undertake vocational apprenticeships in the Railway's workshops, in conjunction with a local college, leading to City & Guilds qualifications, with an emphasis on a wide range of engineering and technical skills and traditional restoration craftsmanship. This is possible because Bluebell's operation is self-sustaining due to the support of its membership and the Trust.
  • Volunteers donate their time to train and fulfil roles such as locomotive drivers, signalmen, guards, booking-office and platform staff - greeting and assisting the public - and engineers and craftsmen, restoring and maintaining the historic rolling stock, track and signalling.  All are committed to preserving the glory of heritage railways.
  • Many are long-standing, with 127 men and women receiving 25-year service awards, 45 awarded for 40 years of service and 5 for 50 years' service. New volunteers are welcome and are given full training in all the various roles. A background in the railways is not essential and the day jobs of the volunteers range from bus drivers to bank managers and housewives.
  • The Bluebell was the first organisation to restore and maintain main line steam locos and establish an engineering facility. Similarly it handles passenger carriage restoration, signalling and infrastructure maintenance.
  • Trainees can also build expertise in communications, signalling, telecoms and fire safety - all up to official rail industry standards.
  • This means many technical and traditional crafts are maintained and shared, e.g. steam boiler making and repair, metal working and pattern making, timber carriage and wagon building, trimming (upholstery) and permanent way construction.  This has enabled Bluebell to build its own workshops, refurbish tunnels, reinstate tracks and restore stations.
  • The Railway has also undertaken a programme of improving opportunities for volunteers of all ages, enabling them to acquire specialist skills and qualifications in leisure and tourism, visitor management, catering and retail, as well as engineering and woodworking skills, fitting them for future employment.
  • Many community groups and local organisations benefit from using the Bluebell as a training facility; these include the Territorial Army, Police and Emergency Services.  The railway regularly hosts visits from engineering apprentices from other firms.
For six decades the Bluebell Railway has been serving the community - Find out more about our impact on:
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Volunteers working on carriage restoration

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Last updated by Richard Salmon, 30 April 2020
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The Bluebell Railway Trust is a Registered Charity, No. 292497