BEING chairman of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway for nearly a decade means that I have had the great privilege of hosting some very special visitors over the years.

The most recent one was the railway’s patron HRH The Duke of Kent.

Introducing His Royal Highness to some of our youngest and also our most senior volunteers was a real honour, as we continue to recognise the amazing work of our volunteers throughout the five decades of operation of the railway.

HRH met railway vice-president Bob Phizackerley, who has now retired from active duty, and it was very moving to find out that the driver on the day of HRH’s visit was the very first driver that Bob has “passed out” as a driver when he was the railway’s Driver Examiner, providing a great example of how skills and experience are being passed on through the generations.

We also introduced HRH to our youngest Preservation Society director, Tom Ruddock, who joined the Board last Autumn, representing such an important element of our volunteers.

We continue to look to the future and how we best protect the railway’s history, through the appointment of a Heritage Development Manager, with the role-holder Debbie Cross returning after a period of maternity leave.

In that regard, we are particularly interested in hearing from those of you with memories to share of the railway’s 50 years of operation as a preserved line.

Debbie is also working on our heritage plan, exploring grant funding opportunities as well as identifying areas where we can better protect and preserve the railway’s heritage, both in terms of the 150-plus years since the railway opened, and the past five decades of operation by one of the very first standard-gauge Railway Preservation Societies.

Of course, as well as looking both to the past and the future, we keep the wheels turning in the here and now.

We have just entered our period of seven-days-per-week operation, with trains running every day right through to early September. Timetables and fares our on the website, as well as details of the special ‘Strawberries and Prosecco’ and ‘Cream Tea’ services.

Travelling on the heritage bus service that complements the weekday service, often operated with an open-top vehicle, offers a great view of the valleys that surround the railway. Again, please visit the website for dates and times of operation.

As ever, I will close with a plea for your support to join the volunteering team.

There are so many roles and opportunities, that whatever skills you have or wish to learn, and whatever the amount of time you can devote to the railway, you will be very welcome - so don’t hesitate to get in touch!