THE Cheshire Best Kept Stations Awards went virtual for their 18th Awards Evening due to the pandemic, with both Frodsham and Helsby both picking up Special Awards.
The 30 minute video, which was launched on YouTube was introduced by Jools Townsend, the Chief Executive of Community Rail Network, hosted by Cheshire Best Kept Stations Chair Mark Barker and concluded with a salutary thank you by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire, David Briggs.
Filmed at Hadlow Road, a preserved former Cheshire station now on the Wirral Way, 18 awards were made with 10 commendations.
These included Special Awards made to Frodsham and Helsby.
Frodsham station has consistently been a star performer in Cheshire Best Kept Stations with Awards in the last 15 consecutive years including overall Winner on three occasions. The station shows a beautiful display of flower beds and a well-cared for station building, whose occupants contribute to the life of the station. It is obvious that there is a lot of local pride in this station.
At Helsby station the gardens on this station would not be out of place in a park. They provide a welcoming and inviting area for intending passengers to wait for their trains. Helsby is always a pleasure to use and has benefited from considerable commitment by its volunteers. Helsby station has the distinction of winning a Cheshire Best Kept Station Award for 13 consecutive years, including that of overall winner on three occasions.
On introducing the Awards, Jools Townsend, the Chief Executive of Community Rail Network said:”The awards are all about recognising the huge amount of work, passion and enthusiasm that you all put into your stations. ”
“It is much more than brightening up stations: It is about bringing people together. It is about health and wellbeing. It is about social inclusion and community cohesion. It is about bringing stations into the heart of their community and creating a sense of familiarity, positivity and ownership towards the railway. ”
“All of this is doubly important at the moment as we come through this great challenge we are facing through the pandemic as we are seeking to help our communities and railway to recover and build back better.”
On announcing the Awards, Mark Barker, Chair of Cheshire Best Kept Stations said:”Despite all the changes that we have all had to make this year, some things have not changed: The work that Station Friends and Community Groups do to make their stations welcoming gateways is brilliant. Yes, their work was disrupted, but they carried on doing what they could, keeping in touch with each and their communities, and planning for the future.
“Their energy and enthusiasm has continued despite the difficulties of the year. We were determined that we would celebrate, promote, and honour their work, as we have done for eighteen years. So we had to go virtual.
“We have given 18 Awards and 10 Highly Commended in one category, the 2020 Special Award. We have not announced an overall Winner as normal, because in this difficult year, every Station Friends Group and Station is a winner, whether they received an Award or not.
“Our sincere thanks go to all volunteers and railway staff for their achievements in these challenging times and look forward to better in 2021.”
Mr David Briggs, the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire on closing the awards said: “It is always a pleasure to attend the Cheshire Best Kept Station Awards.
“It allows me to thank all those volunteers who keep our stations fit for purpose and pleasing places to visit remembering all volunteering is investing in our future.
“Also it is the only night of the year in our county when Cheshire returns to its ancient boundaries and Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and the Wirral come back to their old Cheshire roots.
“Our country would be a very different place if was not for the goodwill of thousands of volunteers and station groups are members of that truly wonderful team.
“Never have you been so important as this year when links into our community are of the utmost importance.”
The awards can be viewed on the Cheshire Best Kept Stations YouTube Channel or by visiting bestkeptstations.org.uk
Pictures show Mark Barker, the Chair of Cheshire Best Kept Stations