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Volunteering

with all the Bells and Whistles

Last week, the students were treated to assemblies given by Mr Lawson about his activities as a volunteer on the Bluebell Railway, a heritage steam line in Sussex. He explained how much fun steam trains can be and gave many examples of the beautiful sounds and sights they make. He then explained how he became a volunteer porter at East Grinstead and Kingscote stations. This involved shovelling coal, building a coal fire, making up chalk timetable boards and keeping visitors safe in and around the station.

Perhaps the most entertaining part of the assemblies was Mr Lawson's demonstrations of how to dispatch a steam train and make an emergency stop. With a lot of loud whistle blasts he went through the process of checking signals, watching doors, signalling to the guard and continuing to watch the doors. Slam doors on trains are not in use on main line trains, so visitors often remain unaware of how to operate them. Mr Lawson performed the assemblies dressed in his volunteer uniform, complete with badges, watch on a chain and peaked cap. It was a most informative and enjoyable experience for all concerned.

Pictured above: Mr Lawson with a steam train in the background
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