Downpatrick Railway Calls For Track Team Volunteers
THE Downpatrick and County Down Railway is run exclusively by volunteers, and is holding an Open Day for five potential recruits to join its track team this Wednesday (5 December.)
Robert Gardiner, Chairman, said: “The track team’s average age has been in the mid-60’s to 70’s for some time, and while it has achieved a great deal, as a volunteer organisation to survive and grow, new members are needed as veterans retire and to pass on valuable skills.
“Not only is this an opportunity for people with experience who may have retired to keep active, it’s also an opportunity for people who may be out-of-work to keep up skills and demonstrate self-motivation to prospective employers, and for young people just joining the employment ladder to learn new skills and build up their experience to make them more attractive to employers
“The DCDR is also offering a four-week ‘try-it-before-you-buy-it’ membership, so potential recruits can see if this is for them or not before committing.
“A group of five recruits will be shown around the Gallery and Museum from 10:00 to 11:00am, followed by a tea-break followed then by experience in the workshop until lunchtime, and afterwards they will be taken out for experience on the track for a safety briefing.”
“To arrange a photo opportunity, contact the DCDR’s Permanent Way supervisor and volunteer mentor Robin Haldane (himself a recent recruit) on 079 7562 1685
The railway has also taken the unusual step of recruiting through Gumtree.
The Downpatrick and County Down Railway is on the lookout for people with civil engineering experience or want to learn.
Are you a digger driver? Or do you want to learn to drive and operate heavy plant with the aim of qualification, and are looking for training without the expense? Or are you unemployed and want to keep your skills up?
“You work as part of the team and know how to swing a hammer and want to learn how to put a railway together? ” said railway chairman Robert Gardiner.
“Then have you considered volunteering with the Downpatrick and County Down Railway’s track team? We’re Northern Ireland’s only heritage railway and are undertaking a large track renewal programme in our station.
“We’ve rebuilt this railway line from scratch but we need YOUR help!
“The track team is responsible for the maintenance and laying of our track – vital work if the railway is to operate safely. There’s good team spirit and larks in the team, which can find itself anywhere between Downpatrick Station and two miles out into the countryside on rebuilt railway line. With new extensions to the line in the pipeline, track renewals planned, as well as new manpower-saving equipment on site, it’s all-go with the track squad.
“New members are always welcome and full training in all tasks is provided, starting with basic track safety. Safety equipment can be provided to new volunteers if required. A reasonable level of physical fitness is required.
“Of course, you are not limited to any particular field – many people work across a wide variety of areas. If you find something’s not for you, try a different department!
“You don’t need to have any experience on the railways or indeed any passion for trains or railways in general – we’re not trainspotters. So whether you are a student, unemployed, retired or simply have a couple of hours spare on Mondays, Wednesdays or Saturdays, just bring yourself along – you’re guaranteed a warm welcome!
“Everyone is welcome, regardless of age, gender, interests or abilities, and there are no set hours, you can volunteer what time you have.
“If you are unemployed, volunteers have gone on to use their experience to gain professional qualifications to aid search for work, and experience gained on the DCDR is readily transferable to other civil engineering jobs and firms, and you’ll learn skills that will put you in a good position to go for jobs with contractors working on our national railway network.”