Young Leighton Buzzard Railway volunteer earns national recognition at heritage rail ‘Oscars’

A young volunteer at Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway has received national recognition for his dedication.

Thursday, 5th May 2022, 12:13 pm
Updated Friday, 6th May 2022, 2:32 pm

Jamie Randall was recently nominated and shortlisted in the Heritage Railway Association Awards, dubbed the Oscars of heritage rail, in the Young Volunteer of the Year category.

He and a few guests were invited to attend the ceremony in Birmingham recently, where his story was presented, along with the other deserving nominees.

Ultimately, the prize for “significant achievement” by a volunteer under the age of 26, went to another from the category shortlist of 11, with Jamie named as one of two runners-up. A spokesman for Leighton Buzzard Railway told the LBO that even to reach the nomination stage is a huge accolade in the railway preservation movement.

Jamie Randall with his runner-up award

Jamie, aged 20, from Leighton Buzzard, said: “It was such a huge honour to be nominated for the Heritage Railway Association’s Young Volunteer of the Year. I’ve been at the Leighton Buzzard Railway since I was seven years old and it’s an incredible place to develop skills, knowledge and experience as a young person."

A Leighton Buzzard Railway spokesman said: “Jamie has turned his hand to absolutely anything he's been asked to do over the years, as well as self-starting and finding jobs for himself, to help the railway's operation.

"He isn't afraid to muck in with the really dirty jobs that no-one likes, but always need doing! He leads and coordinates the lineside hedging team, operating a specially-adapted tractor and flail carried on a railway wagon, with which he cuts the hedges and keeps the view nice along the line, not just for the passengers' benefit, but for the drivers' visibility, which ensures the service runs safely and on time.

"He has worked his way up from a trainee shed cleaner (whose job mainly entails fetching rags, wiping locomotives down, etc) to being a Passed Fireman, with a view to taking his driving exams in the next year or two. With these years of experience behind him, even as a young person, Jamie recognises the need to develop the next generation of crew, so readily assists with training and advice for other young volunteers.

“The railway nominated Jamie for his hard work and leadership, sending in their recommendation to the Heritage Railway Association. They sifted through hundreds of applications to create a final shortlist of two runners up and a winner, the three of whom were invited to the glitzy, black-tie awards ceremony."

The Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway, known as "England's friendly little line", has been an entirely volunteer-run operation since 1968, when it was saved from its industrial past, carrying sand from the quarries at Double Arches and Munday's Hill down to the town centre. The railway welcomes volunteers of all ages, and has a role for everyone, whether you want to drive a train or not.