The 20-mile West Somerset Railway (WSR) is the longest standard-gauge heritage steam railway in the country running from Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton, to Minehead on the Somerset coast and nearby Exmoor.
It usually carries up to 200,000 visitors a year. People love to see its steam trains in a stunning natural environment to the sea, passing close to the Quantock Hills and with views of South Wales.
The WSR first re-opened 45 years ago in 1976 after closure by British Railways in 1971, and it now has some 50 full and part time staff, plus an army of 800 volunteers to help run the operations for ten months of the year. It normally boasts a turnover of some £4 million. The WSR is arguably one of the biggest commercial tourism businesses in Somerset now and has won many national awards, so it is a key economic driver in the local economy of Taunton and West Somerset, and the communities it serves.
Run by the West Somerset Railway plc backed by 6,000 shareholders, and assisted by two separate, support charities, the West Somerset Railway Association (WSRA), and the West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust (WSRHT), plus other key stakeholders and organisations, the WSR is very much an inclusive and effective partnership. The WSR plc is now seeking to make two, new key Non-Executive Director appointments to help drive the railway forward into the future. The two posts are voluntary for a Non Executive Director of Human Resources and a Non-Executive Director of Commercial Services and Marketing who will operate within the new corporate structure being designed and implemented across the plc. Both directors will be responsible to the WSR plc Board via the Chairman. These roles are two of a number of Board Director positions where, in addition to their corporate responsibilities, the postholders will take a particular portfolio interest in a specific activity within the WSR plc and liaise with its support charities too and externally with key commer.