FIFTEEN stations in the former county of Cheshire have scooped awards at the 19th Cheshire Best Kept Stations Awards Evening held on Friday 1st April and attended by Mayors from five of the Boroughs that constitute the former County of Cheshire, and four Town Mayors.
The Awards were presented before almost 100 guests at The Grange Theatre, Hartford, Northwich by Mr. Chris Jackson, Regional Director of Northern. Seventy people watched by means of a live stream.
Handforth Station picked up a record-breaking 17th Cheshire Best Kept Station Award with the CrossCountry Promoting Rail Award, Heaton Chapel won the Art Project Award. Alderley Edge received a Highly Commended award, Goostrey won the Sustainability award and Sandbach won the Cheshire East Award.
On presenting the awards, Mr. Jackson said, “It is fantastic to be part of this celebration of volunteers and the local railway community, who through their incredible skills, passion and hard work, help to brighten up stations across the county. Our community partners are the heartbeat of the railway and we’re extremely proud to work closely with them to deliver such a wide-ranging positive impact for the North of England.”
On announcing the Awards, Alf Clark of Cheshire Best Kept Stations said, “Tonight’s Awards Evening is a celebration and a thank you for all the volunteers and community groups who do so much to brighten up our stations in Cheshire. You are all winners! – whether or not you pick up an award tonight, this is a big thank you to you all; a party for volunteers and for those who support & encourage you; rail industry, civic leaders and local authorities. You deserve it. We can celebrate something to be truly proud of at so many of our Cheshire stations. We have seen some truly excellent work from volunteers and staff at stations right across Cheshire.”
Sandbach Station won the Cheshire East Award
There was lots of pride evident in this station which is constrained by its 1960s buildings. There are well tended and colourful planters on both both platforms and the station front. Excellent and effective art installations brighten the waiting room windows and the main station building, where the staff entrance has become the Potting Shed door.
John Scarrott, Chair of Friends of Sandbach Station said, “Well done Friends of Sandbach Station team, we won yet another award the “Cheshire East Award”, the second time that we have won this award in the last 3 years. Particularly mentioned of being outstanding was the Potting Shed door and Victoria’s Art Studio work on the waiting room. They also commented on our excellent floral displays. Many thanks to our attendees, Richard Hovey, Pat & Joe Wilson and Sheila and John. We are hoping to have some success again next year as our installation of a 10ft by 2ft vintage Sandbach sign erected in November 2021 was not in place when the judging took place. We have a great team at Sandbach who work extremely hard to keep our station looking bright!”
Heaton Chapel Station won the Art Project Award
The Friends Group worked with a local college and the Heritage Society to produce a large artwork to showcase the heritage of local transport modes including trains, cars and planes in their area. The result was a striking 20 foot long colourful mural visible to passengers on passing trains as well as those waiting on the platform.
Phil Rowbotham of Friends of Heaton Chapel Station said, “ The Friends of Heaton Chapel Station are delighted to receive the 2021 CBKS Art Project Award. We’d like to thank Damyon Garrity [FofHCS committee member] who undertook this artwork project in conjunction with Stockport College students, advising about the design of the winning 20 foot long totem artwork and thanks also to the Heatons Heritage Society, who advised on the local heritage connections of trains, cars and planes.”
Alderley Edge Station was Highly Commended in the Art Project Award category
Kelvin Briggs, Chair of Friends of Alderley Edge Station said, “As a relatively new Station Adoption group we were delighted to be ‘Highly Commended’ in the Art Work Project category. We’ve since added more striking digital art works at the station that we have high hopes for in the next Cheshire Best Kept Stations awards. A big thank you to Northern for sponsoring the awards and to Mark Baker and the team for organising another great awards ceremony”
Handforth Station won the CrossCountry Promoting Rail Award
During 2021 the group have been reminding the community about their local station through their own website and that of the town council, encouraging people to use rail services by means of a station-based quiz and helping disadvantaged people in the community to take advantage of rail travel opportunities by working with a local group that supports adults with learning disabilities and autism.
Jenny Barnes, Chair of Friends of Handforth Station said, “We were delighted to receive this award, and we thank CBKS for acknowledging our efforts. In 2021, FoHS recognised that attracting people back to train travel, as Covid lockdown’s heavy travel restrictions eased, required a concerted effort from all involved, and we were very pleased to be able to run several events that helped achieve this.” Jenny Barnes, Chair.
Goostrey Station won the Sustainability Award
A station where the Friends Group has comprehensively taken sustainability into account, increasing biodiversity by mapping of species using a GIS system, working with young people to build bird and bat boxes and bug hotels, introducing perennial, low maintenance, drought free plants without peat or weedkillers, incredibly using another GIS to monitor plastic pollution in the Azores, campaigning to restore a Victorian station building to preserve industrial heritage and create business opportunities for the rural economy.
Christina Burgess of Friends of Goostrey Station said, “We’re delighted to add the Sustainability Award 2021 to our six previous awards from CBKS. We always consider how future generations could benefit from improvements to Goostrey station. This prize recognises what Friends of Goostrey Station have done to increase biodiversity, promote greener travel and enable a business opportunity”
Crewe to Manchester and South East Manchester Community Rail Partnership Officers, Sarah Morgan, said, “After a challenging couple of years, it is fantastic to see the volunteers hard work, commitment and creativity recognised through the Cheshire Best Kept Station Awards. With 10 station groups working on projects along the Crewe to Manchester line, these awards are a very important annual event in the community rail calendar. If anyone would like to know more about adopting a station, or joining one of the existing Station Friends groups, the Community Rail Partnership Officers can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can find out more at our website: https://www.crewe2manchesterrail.org.uk/