Image credits: Railway Benefit Fund

Railway Benefit Fund (RBF) are delighted to announce the winners of their 2021 Heart of Gold Awards. They received a record breaking 7,000 votes this year, and for the first time introduced four categories to the awards. RBF were flooded with so many inspiring and heart-warming stories of rail heroes, receiving over 100 nominations this year. Below are this year’s incredible winners:

Going the Extra Mile Award Winner- Jennifer Birdsall

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Congratulations to Jennifer Birdsall from Avanti West Coast!

Jennifer has a small army of fans at Warrington Bank Quay Station. She always looks after the train spotters and elderly travellers, who often bring her plants for the station planters. She also takes an active role helping vulnerable customers and over the years has assisted multiple suicidal individuals. On one occasion, she sat on the tracks for hours with a suicidal lady, supporting her until help arrived.

Jennifer said: “To win this Heart of Gold Award is truly amazing and I am proud to receive this on behalf of all of my colleagues at Warrington Bank Quay and everyone who kindly voted for me. It is an absolute privilege to be part of the railway family and accepting this award makes me extremely proud! Thank you so much!”

Rising Star Award Winner- Paul Scott

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Congratulations to Paul Scott from Southeastern!

Following the loss of a number of rail industry colleagues to suicide, Paul was determined to turn the tide, relentlessly pushing for greater awareness of mental health challenges, whilst raising money for charity. The Victoria-based Driver Instructor organised an epic 19-mile run from his station all the way to Orpington, personally checking in with colleagues at each station on the way – and went on to establish the company’s official football team, Southeastern Railway FC, working tirelessly to put together a squad and raise awareness across the region.

Paul said: “I am absolutely blown away! Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for me for the Rising Star Award. I am extremely honoured to even reach the nomination stage especially when I read the other nominees’ stories of fundraising and helping our local communities. It’s onto the next fundraising challenge and keeping up the need to raise awareness of Mental Health and to get our community talking when the struggle gets too much.”

Lifetime Achievement Award Winner- Siggy Cragwell

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Congratulations to Siggy Cragwell from Govia Thamelink Railway!

At 82, Siggy is Thameslink’s oldest staff member and has worked on the railway since the day after he landed in England as part of the Windrush generation, 59 years ago. Siggy’s ‘fan club’ is legendary and he can often be found surrounded by passengers who just want to say ‘hello.’ Despite his age, Siggy is always pro-active, always wanting to help and ensuring the station is well looked after.

Siggy said: “It’s been a very great honour to me to be working on the railway and, now, to receive this award. I’ve met many, many people and made so many good friends with some wonderful managers. I’ve also come to know so many passengers – they always come to look for me in the morning and I like that because they keep me busy! Passengers have been telling me they’ve been voting for me. That’s nice.”

Team Award Winner- Hatch End Station Team

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Congratulations to Hatch End Station Team!

For the past 3 years the team at Hatch End Station, made of up of Arriva Rail London employees and community volunteers, have been working together to make their station a wonderful place to be. The team have turned Hatch End into a thriving community hub, running book exchanges, raising money for charity and creating beautiful, award winning flower displays in the station.

The Team said: “We proud of what we have achieved during this time and during COVID and am proud to be part of a great team and a great community it’s a huge honour to win this. The other candidates were very strong and very worthy nominees. Thank you to everyone who has helped us achieve this accolade and to everyone who voted for us.”

RBF would like to thank all those nominated for displaying kindness and always going the extra mile in their workplace. As a charity that solely supports railway people and their families, it is great for them to know how many incredible people there are in the Railway Family.