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Helping families hit by Covid helps earn rail Friends group national awards

COMMUNITY links and supporting families in need during the pandemic earned a recently-formed New Forest railway station group two national awards and a share in a third.

The Friends of Brockenhurst Station, which was founded a year ago, gained the accolades after competing with more than 600 other groups across the country in the Community Rail Network’s annual excellence awards.

Its work has ranged from planting and maintaining flower baskets and beds at the station to helping to develop links between the transport hub and the village community.

Friends of Brockenhurst Station and South Western Railway staff proudly show off their certificates (46139963)
Friends of Brockenhurst Station and South Western Railway staff proudly show off their certificates (46139963)

A silver award presented for overall efforts placed it among the top three stations nationwide.

There was also a prize for the Friends’ small budget project which highlighted links with the community and included its launch leaflet as well as events for travellers such as its popular Christmas Carols under the Canopy.

These projects were funded by grants from South Western Railways, with a maximum spend of £250.

Finally the group was honoured for contributing to a project to feed families in crisis due to Covid-19.

Money from a cancelled project for music on trains run by the Lymington-Brockenhurst Community Rail Partnership was diverted to the local school food bank based at Priestlands in Pennington. This benefited families across the south of the New Forest.

Welcoming the achievement, Friends chair David Bennett said: “There were thousands of entries from hundreds of similar groups across the country – and we’re not only one of the newest but one of the smallest.

“We’ve not rested during Covid, and are looking forward now to getting back onto the station – not least as the flower baskets need a bit of tender care so they look their best for visitors and other travellers through the summer.”

The Friends’ certificates can be seen at the station’s ticket office.

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