Members Election Statements

Gavin Johns

Gavin Johns (Chairman)

Proposed By: Trevor Parsons. Seconded By: Mark Woolley

I have been a volunteer signalman for about 16 years, a Trustee for 8 years and Chairman of the Trust since October 2013. I now have a good understanding of the breadth of issues facing the railway.

Our Strategic Plan provides the best foundation on which to build and develop the railway. My priorities remain, which I pursue at meetings and in my voting: Volunteer attraction and retention; adopting financially sensible practises; securing funds; and improving the quality of our decision making. These are essential for the Trust to achieve its objectives and its future plans.

I believe I have good broad business skills and experience to be a Trustee. I am good at listening, reflecting and deciding a course of action.

I am able through my role in the Company to promote the aims of the Trust. Whilst we deal with the impact of the pandemic I believe that a solid well thought through plan will ensure our survival, enabling us to re-set the Company in a way that is sustainable in the future. The Railway has a great future and role to play in Purbeck. I will continue with open consultation on key issues so that we can all help shape the direction of the Trust and railway.

I firmly believe that for the Railway to be sustainable and to grow, we have to operate as a team. That means treating the contribution of all staff and members in a positive way, making the most of the varied levels of skill and experience we have available to us. As a Trustee I will continue to promote inclusivity and tolerance so that all can contribute towards our objectives.

I hope I can count on your support.

Term Ends: 2022

Liz Sellen

Liz Sellen (Deputy Chairman)

Proposed by: Rudiger Rich. Seconded by: Barrie Eden

I have been a member of the Trust and an active volunteer on the railway since 1990 working in various roles and departments but particularly since 2003 administering the Trust membership department requirements a role I enjoy as much today as I did when starting the role. This together with subsequent responsibilities as a Trustee of the Swanage Railway Trust and Director of the Railway Company has let me bring I hope many skills gained in my professional life to the railway and which enables me to undertake the varied roles of interest and responsibility I deliver.

I have a keen interest in working with others to not only ensure we work constantly to develop and move forward in accordance with our stated aims, in particular attracting and recruiting new volunteers to join those already here but working on development and training support for all volunteers hopefully leading to sustained retention of individuals with skills vital to all areas of our diverse railway. I enjoy when able volunteering in people facing roles including working the Wessex Belle dining service trains, helping organise and participate in our Santa Special trains and elsewhere as required. My time spent volunteering during Flying Scotsman visit was particularly rewarding. 


2019 has brought many challenges not only here but the wider heritage railway sector also. Trustees here acknowledged a need for governance reviewing and are progressing this. I am totally supportive of this and actions to date. I hope with your support to have a continuing role both in this and other areas of work being undertaken currently within the Trust to build a strong and sustainable future for this wonderful railway of ours – The Swanage Railway. Thank you for your support to date and hopefully for the next 2 years as an elected Trustee.

Term Ends: 2021

Mark Woolley

Mark Woolley (Secretary)

Proposed by: Liz Sellen. Seconded by: Dan Bennett

I have been a volunteer on the Swanage Railway for over 35 years and am currently the Secretary of the Swanage Railway Trust and also a Director of the Swanage Railway Company. The next twelve months promises to be the most significant year for the Swanage Railway since it was saved from closure by resolute members of our community back in the early 1970s. After many years of hard work and planning we are now in the process of gaining the required authorizations to finally to be able to run trains to Wareham ourselves-without having to rely on other operators. The significance of this cannot be over emphasized and there has never been a more important time to run a safe, efficient and reliable Heritage Railway. Amongst other duties I am pleased to serve on the Governance Review Group. I believe that my knowledge and experience will be helpful here as we undertake a detailed review of our Trust and Company structure with the aim of establishing a more unified organization which results in improved decision making and more effective accountability.

I feel strongly that we need to continue to ensure that we work together to maximize our appeal as one of the UKs leading Heritage Railways, whilst controlling costs and ensuring that the right environment can be sustained to raise levels of volunteer recruitment and retention. I remain fervently committed to the principle of a charity controlled, volunteer led, Heritage Railway and will be very grateful for your support at this election.


Thank you.

Term Ends: 2021

Andrew Moore

Andrew Moore (Treasurer)

Proposed by Mark Woolley. Seconded by Robert Patterson

I am seeking formal election to the Council of Management this year having served as Treasurer in recent years in accordance with the Trust Articles. I have been the Company Finance Director and Trust Treasurer for almost 20 years and I hope that my experience and understanding of our railway’s finances will be of use as we strive to meet the challenges generated by a changing world and in particular Coronavirus. Good governance will be a vital facet as we move forward and I hope to contribute to making the railway an even better place than it is now.


We need to build a strong sustainable business to ensure we remain one of the leading heritage steam railways in the UK. We must strive to be as profitable as possible but we must do even more to ensure positive cash flows which is necessary if we are to pay our debts to suppliers.

In the recent difficult times our volunteers have worked wonders to keep the railway alive and all are an asset to us. The adage that we are a volunteer led railway remains at the forefront of my mind and I will I can to promote this in the future. Volunteers are the life blood of our organisation and we must never forget this. I will do all I can to encourage new volunteers and to ensure everyone is valued and respected, old and new.
I will continue to promote the vision that we are preserving the past for future generations to understand and enjoy. Steam hauled services are what we and the public prefer to see on the front of our trains and I will do my utmost to ensure they continue to do so. We must move forward and strive to overcome the setbacks arising from Coronavirus. Thank you for your continued support.

Term Ends: 2022

Will Armston-Sheret

Will Armston-Sheret

Proposed by: Nicholas Lloyd. Seconded by Matt McManus

In 2016, I began volunteering at Swanage Railway in the Operations department and am now a Passed Cleaner. I’ve seen first-hand what our railway does best and where it falls down.

Nearly 50 years ago, volunteers started work to re-open Swanage Railway which through our hard work is one of the premier heritage railways in the country. Now, we must rekindle their visionary spirit to rise to the challenges of the 21st century.


If elected, I will work with other CoM members to make our railway sustainable by:

  • Improving how we communicate with members, the public and supporters to enable timely updates on projects and developments around the railway.

  • Consolidating and improving infrastructure and facilities on Swanage Railway, such as the need for better locomotive maintenance facilities and volunteer accommodation.

  • Working to deliver ‘half finished’ projects.

  • Pushing for a renewed fundraising approach, pooling best practice from the heritage railway sector, to facilitate the delivery of necessary improvements around the railway.

  • Nurturing and conservation of our heritage assets.

I have worked for not for profit organisations, and elected representatives in regional and national government, to develop effective campaigns to deliver strategic outcomes. I believe this knowledge would make me an effective and proactive board member.

Term Ends: 2022

Dan Bennett

Dan Bennett

Proposed by: Mark Woolley. Seconded by: Matt McManus

I have now served on the Council of Management for an enjoyable four years. I would like to think I have made a difference during my time, bringing to the table my experience of working in the mainline rolling stock maintenance industry, and also my experience operating heritage diesel locomotives on the mainline.

As conveyor of the Trust's Rolling Stock Committee, I have recently been working with the owners of some of the unrestored vehicles around the railway to try to remove those vehicles that aren't historically appropriate to the line and unlikely to ever be restored in an effort to improve the appearance of the railway. Another recent success was working with the railway's engineering management to oversee the project to fund, purchase and install the 20 tonne locomotive lifting jacks in Herston Works.

I have been a volunteer physically on the railway itself for 18 years, for both the Operations department where I am a Diesel Driver, and for the Locomotive, Carriage & Wagon department as a fitter. I stand by my statement that to serve on the Council of Management it is important to understand how the railway operates and also have an active input in its operation when it come to making strategic decisions.

As well as rolling stock, I'm also passionate about helping to improve our facilities for both engineering and operations, and if you give me the opportunity to serve on the Council of Management for another term I can continue with this important work.

Term Ends: 2021

Geoff Carter

Geoff Carter

Proposed by Robert Payne. Seconded by Susan Payne

I'm putting myself forward for re-election because I feel I can contribute significantly to policy and management decision-making in the SRT development planning process. I've now completed 29 years as a working volunteer on the SR since commencing as an engine cleaner In January 1991.

This included holding positions as engine driver, traction inspector, RO, MIC class instructor, Company Safety Officer, SRC Operations and Engineering Director, and 6 years as an SRT Trustee. My professional career was 36 years spent as a mechanical design engineer with the FORD Motor Company, 23 of which were in the project management of the prototype phases of future model programs. This included parts procurement, including manufacture and quality control, and prototype engine and vehicle assembly. My responsibilities with FORD included a period as factory/project manager launching new joint US/UK/German engineering methodology. I live in Swanage very close to the Railway's main line by Victoria Avenue Bridge, and am thus very much aware of the Railway's daily operations.

A key goal of mine is to see the SR have good, covered, LCW engineering, and storage facilities to enable working undercover instead of out in the open, and for stock protection against the ravages of the weather.

Term Ends: 2022

Randy Coldham

Randy Coldham

Proposed by Mike Whitwam. Seconded by Andrew Moore

I joined the Swanage Railway in January 2017 and trained and then worked as a Porter. In January 2018 I commenced training as a Signalman and I am now qualified to work in Harmans Cross and Corfe Castle signal boxes. I try and roster every week when the timetable allows. My working life was spent in the UK shipping industry where I worked from apprentice to master mariner. My marine career not only included navigation but also fabric maintenance of the ship. After 15 years at sea I moved ashore into a marine personnel department and by retirement had been personnel director of Cunard Line and then James Fisher.

I am standing for re-election as I believe that the Trust should be well represented by the working volunteer membership. Since election I have been convener and more recently chairman of the Fundraising Committee. During this time I have overseen the grant from South Western Railway for a 2 year post for a Volunteer Recruitment & Retention Officer. I launched a successful appeal for the Herston carriage shed until the onset of Covid-19, and since then set up and managed the SOS appeal. If re-elected I wish to continue in my current role in the Fundraising Group.

Term Ends: 2022

Nick Coram

Nick Coram

Proposed by Matt McManus. Seconded by James Cox

I’ve been an active volunteer for 9 years and have served on the CoM for 6 years. You will often find me on the footplate driving or firing but the majority of my volunteering time is spent in project planning and CoM related business. In addition to leading the Loco and Rolling Stock Facilities Group, I also work on the Strategic Planning Group and Volunteer Engagement group and was on the Governance Review group.

I try to promote a progressive agenda believing it’s essential we evolve our management and governance practices. My primary focus is ensuring we remain sustainable in to the future. I think this is best achieved by tightening control of our costs, enhancing the customer and volunteer experience and wise use of funds on projects that produce a return on investment. I fully support the delivery on our commitment to a Wareham service but we must not allow the challenges involved to detract from our Heritage Steam Services that are our core business.

I’ve managed many projects including replacement of the Swanage Station Canopy, Goods shed & Engine shed reroofing, Construction of the Court Road Engineering Workshop, New Operations locker & Signing on building. In 2017 I obtained a £75K grant to mainline the U class. I’m currently managing the Herston Carriage shed and leading the group looking at options for development of Furzebrook Sidings. I hope to rekindle the Water Tower project as funding allows.

In my professional life I am a qualified project manager with experience in Civil Engineering, IT, and Aerospace roles. I currently hold a supervisory position within a firm of Civil Engineering Consultants.

I believe my combination of experience is vital and if re-elected will continue to press for the successful delivery of changes and projects needed to secure our future.

Term Ends: 2022

Trevor Parsons

Trevor Parsons

Proposed by Paul McDonald. Seconded by Heather Denning

I have been a signalman and guard for more than 15 years and a Director of the Swanage Railway Company Board for five years much of that time as Chairman.

I believe my experience over the years enables me to have a deep understanding of how the railway is run, this has become increasingly more relevant recently with the disruption cause by the current restriction with COVID-19.

I consider that my experience of running my own business before retiring gives me the ability to make a valuable contribution to the overall business aspects of the railway.

I believe that it is important to actively interact with the volunteers and staff giving guidance and encouragement in making sure that everyone involved enjoys their experience on the railway.
I am additionally conscious of the importance of maintaining the development and objectives of the Trust going forward. I hope I can count on your support.

Term Ends: 2022

Peter Sills

Peter Sills

Proposed by: Bill Trite. Seconded by: Dr David Evans

During my time as a Trustee since 2004, I have endeavoured to bring to the Swanage Railway a mixture of my business experience and strong enthusiasm for my love of ‘the Southern’ and the former railways of Purbeck.

Although partially retired, by profession I am a successful businessman with a background in management and am currently a Swanage Railway Trustee and Director, previously I served as a director for our railway operating company for 11 years and chaired the board for 6 years.

I currently chair the Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum committee, convenor for the Museum, Heritage & Learning Group and sit on the Governance Review Group

I am totally committed to the long-term sustainable future of our member-led railway.

The railway we have today is solely due to the dedication and determination of many people over the years, a legacy I very much respect and appreciate. As an organization, we need to move forward and build on this.

I passionately believe for our future success and development we will need to work even closer with our key stakeholders, so that we can deliver an enhanced heritage operation together with a robust and sustainable service to Wareham and the national network, but key to delivering this are dedicated maintenance, restoration and operational facilities –without these our railway will struggle to operate and deliver our contractual obligations.

Volunteers are so key to our success and we must continue to develop the ability to attract and retain more volunteers together with bolstering personal training and development – without motivated and appreciated volunteers we will not succeed in achieving our goals.

I ask for your vote and will, if re-elected, continue to work towards these important and achievable goals.

Term Ends: 2021

Bill Trite

Bill Trite

Proposed by Howard Fry. Seconded by Mike Whitwam

I ask for your support on the following grounds:

As a railway advocate, especially for Southern steam, I'm dedicated to the survival and future of the Swanage Railway. The Covid crisis means our first priority must be just to keep the Railway in being, yet however this epidemic develops SR is likely to suffer a following threat - severe national recession.


My SR experience spans 30 years, including chairing the '90s Emergency Committee to prevent imminent bankruptcy and not take the advice of in-house business experts to wind everything up. Afterwards I was 17 years your Trust Chairman, when actions included repayment of all debts, extending operations from Harmans Cross to Corfe Castle and Norden, making the link with Network Rail, and reorganising internal governance on a democratic basis. With the SR's geographical advantages and well-motivated volunteers responding so well to hardship, conditions were very favourable for the future.


I will try to ensure the SR is ultimately governed by the Trust membership through its elected representatives, and that adult members have the right and opportunity to stand for election. It was less easy to establish these basic principles than is often realised. Internal democracy is entirely consistent with business sense and common sense, and with our need to comply with all legal, regulatory, operational and Health & Safety requirements.


My background is in marketing and local government. I chair the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership, which co-ordinates the interests of the SR, South Western Railway, Network Rail, local Councils and other stakeholders in the Swanage-Wareham plans. To prevent sale elsewhere, I bought light pacific 257 Squadron ex-scrapyard and acquired various passenger coaches and wagons for Swanage.

To question my views on any SR matter, please e-mail XXXXXXXXX or telephone XXXXXXXX.

Term Ends: 2022

Mike Whitwam

Mike Whitwam

Proposed by: John Lindsay. Seconded by: Stuart Magnus

Having joined the Railway as a signalman in 1996, I have served on the Council of Management since 1999 and am currently Volunteer Liaison Officer, Signaling Training Officer and member of the Rules Committee I was Chairman of the Swanage Railway from 2008 to 2010 during which time I was involved in organizing the first passenger train from London since 1972. I project managed the construction of the award winning new signal box at Corfe Castle and have taken the lead in training our Signalmen for the movement of trains on to the mainline at Worgret Junction and for the new level crossing at Norden.


As Volunteer Liaison Officer I have been and will continue working tirelessly welcoming and introducing all new volunteers to the Railway. I will also continue to ensure that the Railway remains under the full control of its Volunteers and Members and that the new Swanage to Wareham service does not compromise our existing Heritage operation. I will also ensure that robust financial control is maintained on both our Heritage and Wareham service.


I live in Swanage and can be found around the Railway at some stage on most days and am always happy to answer any questions.

Term Ends: 2021

Steve Williams

Steve Williams

Proposed by: Andrew P.M. Wright. Seconded by: Andrew Hext

My wife Margaret and I are relative newcomers to this area, but have family living in Parkstone and my early career in the hotel industry was in Bournemouth. We quickly fell in love with the isle of Purbeck and bought a holiday home in Swanage about four years ago. Our interest in preserved railways led to us becoming life travel members of Swanage Railway. Two years ago, we moved to Christchurch and now share our time between Swanage and Christchurch. Once living in Dorset, I became a volunteer TTI. My love of the area led to me becoming a Dorset Ambassador.

My background and experience are not in railway operations: however, I have 40 years experience operating as senior management, director and management consultant across different industry sectors in both the public and private sector in the UK and overseas. My main sector experience was in hospitality, catering, retail and leisure and my last senior management position was director of product services for Carnival UK where I was responsible for the strategy and development of the on-board services for the 10 cruise ships in the Cunard and P and O cruises fleet. This included accommodation, food and beverage, entertainment, retail, health spas and casinos.

I specialize in management development, project management, enabling change and enhancing collaborative working within and between organizations. I was one of the first members of the Institute for Collaborative Working. Since retiring I have run my own consulting business on a very part time basis, helping organizations to enhance their collaborative working.

I have a particular interest in customer service and very much enjoy meeting our passengers in my role as a TTI. If elected, I believe that my combination of skills and experience should compliment and, possibly, add another dimension to the management of the Trust.

Term Ends: 2021