Jonathan King wins prestigious HRA award

Jonathan King wins prestigious HRA award

Long-serving DCDR volunteer Jonathan King was nominated for the Heritage Railway Association’s Young Volunteer of the Year award – and he won!

Jonathan set off for Brighton on Saturday morning along with fellow DCDR volunteer Morgan Young. Despite both being relatively young men, both serve on the DCDR Board of Directors and both are long-serving, hard-working volunteers.

Getting to Brighton just in time after heavy delays caused by fog at the airport, they headed straight to the Hilton Metropole for the Heritage Railway Association’s annual awards.

Before long, the dinner had started and Jonathan and Morgan found themselves sitting with Lord Faulkner himself (the namesake and patron of the Lord Faulkner Young Volunteer of the Year Award) as well as representatives of the National Wagon Preservation Group, the Chasewater Railway, and the Keith and Dufftown Railway. As it happens, this would turn out to be quite the lucky table with all railways sat around it taking home an award!

Jonathan King holding his HRA award plaque, and sitting next to Lord Faulkner of the HRA. Both are dressed in formal suits and are grinning broadly.

Jonathan and the HRA’s Lord Faulkner, all smiles after the announcement

Following speeches by HRA Chief Executive Steve Oates, compere Paul Lewin, and special guest speaker Francis Bourgeois, the awards got underway. With Young Volunteer of the Year handed out towards the end of the ceremony, we waited with bated breath as the other awards were handed out to some very deserving railways for a range of amazing restoration projects and personnel.

Finally, the moment arrived and Lord Faulkner was invited up on stage to present the Young Volunteer Award. Jonathan faced some stiff competition from volunteers at the Welshpool and Llanfair, Peak Rail, and the Avon Valley Railway. Whilst any one of them would have been a deserving winner, in the end Jonathan’s name was the one in the envelope and we could not have been more excited for him!

Jonathan King and Morgan Young posing with celebrity trainspotter Francis Bourgeois. All three are dressed in formal suits and are smiling. Francis is giving a 'thumbs up'.

Jonathan and Morgan with celebrity trainspotter Francis Bourgeois

After getting plenty of photos and congratulating the other successful railways, Jonathan and Morgan were able to get a quick selfie and chat with the legendary Francis Bourgeois, who expressed his sympathy for DCDR following the flood. As it turns out, he’s quite fond of the Irish Traction Group’s A Class locomotive!

As the news of Jonathan’s victory filtered back to Ireland, congratulatory messages and ‘donations’ to fund celebrations rolled in. All that was left to do now was for Jonathan and Morgan to crack open a bottle of Prosecco, which they shared with their new friends at the Welshpool and Llanfair. Celebrations lasted well into the small hours and it will probably come as no surprise that the DCDR delegation took things easy the next day!

Morgan and Jonathan standing on the beach at Brighton with two volunteers from the Volk's Electric Railway. The Volk's volunteers are wearing hi viz clothing. They are all standing beside one of the railway's trains.

Morgan and Jonathan with two of the volunteers from Volk’s Electric Railway – also HRA award winners

On Sunday they rounded off the trip with a visit to the Volk’s Electric Railway, who were also in high spirits after winning Railway of the Year the night before. Jonathan and Morgan were treated to a return journey along the length of the line as well as an extensive behind-the-scenes tour of the railway’s workshop and headquarters. Congratulations to the Volk’s on their victory, and a huge thank you to their staff and volunteers – especially Ian and Adrian – for accommodating Jonathan and Morgan. And with that it was time for them to head home, arriving back in Belfast late on Sunday evening after a fantastic weekend.

Jonathan’s victory comes as a very welcome spot of good news after our recent flooding, but more importantly is well-deserved recognition of his tireless dedication and contributions to the railway over the years. A huge congratulations to Jonathan, and well done to everyone else at this year’s awards.

Generous support from Gwilli Railway

Generous support from Gwilli Railway

A big thank you to Jonathan and Samuel Turner from the Gwili Steam Railway in Wales, who saw the devastation that the flooding had on the news and had a whip-round around their volunteers for our Flood Relief Appeal.

Jonathan travelled over to Northern Ireland to personally present the cheque to vice-chairman Mike Beckett and membership secretary Innis Mennie last weekend, where they got shown round the lovely ongoing mess tidy up.

We’re very touched by the support of our Welsh friends, and hope to show off the railway in a better state to them soon!