Members Election Statements

Gavin Johns (Chairman)

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I have been a volunteer signalman for about 14 years, a Trustee for 6 years and Chairman of the Trust since October 2013.  I am training to be a TTI.


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 practices; 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.


The Trust and Railway have 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: 2020. Proposed by: Mark Woolley. Seconded by: David Budd

Liz Sellen (Deputy Chairman)

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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. Proposed by: Rudiger Rich. Seconded by: Barrie Eden

Mark Woolley (Secretary)

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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. Proposed by: Liz Sellen. Seconded by: Dan Bennett

Dan Bennett

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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. Proposed by: Mark Woolley. Seconded by: Matt McManus

Geoff Carter

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I am submitting my name for re-election to the Swanage railway Trust because I believe that with the experience of the 27years I have spent working as a volunteer with SRC operations and 10 years as an SRC Director, coupled with the 36 years I completed as a mechanical design engineer with the Ford Motor Company, I can offer a significant contribution to SRT policy and management decisions.


My profession with Ford included spending the later 23 years as a factory/project manager covering combined UK and German new engineering operations. I am a footplate Traction Inspector and on the role of SRC staff able to undertake Responsible Officer (RO) duties. I live in Swanage very close to the Railway's main line by Victoria Avenue bridge and am thus usually very much aware of the Railway's daily operations.


A key wish of mine is to see the SR have a good, covered, engineering, maintenance and rolling stock storage facilities that will enable staff to work under cover instead of in the open, for our locomotives and rolling stock to be better protected against the ravages of the weather , and for us to be able to offer  recognised excellent engineering service to the UK Heritage Railway movement as a whole.

Term ends: 2020. Proposed by: Matt McManus. Seconded by: Peter Sills

Randy Coldham

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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 recently qualified to work in Harmans Cross signal box. I intend to continue volunteering as a porter as well as a signalman.


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 James Fisher.


I am standing for election as I believe that the Trust should be well represented by the working volunteer membership. The railway is going through a period of change with the ever increasing difficulties in recruiting and retaining volunteers and paid employees and with my personnel experience I can hopefully bring some new thinking to the Trust. Communications within an organisation is very important and is another area where I have knowledge and, if allowed, can assist the Trust and management improve this with volunteers and employees.

Term ends: 2020. Proposed by: Stuart Magnus. Seconded by: Mike Whitwam

Nick Coram

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I'm and active trustee and volunteer. You'll often find me on the footplate but the majority of my volunteering takes place behind the scenes

My key focus areas are: development of rail connected engineering and storage facilities, strategic planning, volunteer engagement, project planning and process. I have a particular interest in improving our stations and customer experience. I'm one of a number of trustees who want tighter control of costs and a cautious approach to expansion.


With expansion to Wareham the next few years are vitally important. It's crucial to have a strong  experience team. Our community rail commitments are inescapable and maintaining a healthy balance with the Heritage Railway is vital. I believe the best way to do this successfully is to deliver the Wareham service ourselves.

I've managed many projects including replacing Swanage Station canopy, Swanage goods shed refurbishment, the new LCW workshop and new locker & signing on room for the operations department. 


I'm currently working on the development of rolling stock storage and maintenance facilities. This latest project aims to support our growing operation by proving the engineering infrastructure necessary for efficient maintenance of coaches and locomotives to the required high standard.  It will enable the railway to become more self sufficient , sustainable and develop new revenue by providing heritage engineering services to others.


During 2018 I've supported  the Cygnets and Heritage Coach groups on a number of projects. I lead the 'Loco & Rolling stock Facilities Group' and participate in the Members & Volunteers and Strategic Planning Groups. I drafted the Norden area strategy, started the Swanage Moguls Fund and secured a £ 75,000 grant for the N class to operate on the mainline.


If re-elected I will continue to serve the railway to the best of my ability. Thank you for your support.

Term ends: 2020. Proposed by: Mark Woolley. Seconded by: James Cox.

Stuart Magnus

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I have been a volunteer working member of the railway since June 2013 and previously ran my own business, full time, as a Chartered Accountant.


In this time I have tried to learn as much as I can about the workings of the various departments, being qualified as Porter, Signalman and TTI, and have also been actively involved in Santa specials, finance meetings, the SR Audit and Wareham operations.


I enjoy the variety of different roles on the railway and try to assist wherever possible.  I have been on the CoM since February 2016 and hopefully have added some of my experience in business to the decision making process.


I also volunteer for SLL in Herston works, and try to ensure good communication with SR, whilst learning the skills of engineering, de-crudding and painting. I try to spend two days a week working on the railway, doing various activities and being a part of a team, and also helping to promote the railway to visitors and volunteers.
If re-elected, I will continue to further the aims of Swanage Railway for the future.


Term ends: 2020. Proposed by: Randy Coldham. Seconded by: Andrew Moore.

Trevor Parsons

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I have been a volunteer for fifteen years both as a signalman and a guard and a trustee for six years. For the past three years I have been a Director and Chairman of the Swanage Railway Company attending meetings of various committees concerning the day to day running and future of the railway and its museums.


As I am frequently rostered for various duties I feel that I have a good understanding of the daily  routine and what this involves to make a valuable contribution as a trustee and when making decisions that affect the whole railway and its future.


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

Term ends: 2020. Proposed by: Roger Denning. Seconded by: Alan Greatbatch.

Peter Sills

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

Bill Trite

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Lifelong railway enthusiast (Southern Region/Railway leanings), committed to future of Swanage Railway and steam. If re-elected I will seek to ensure the SR is governed, as intended, by the Trust membership through their elected representatives (Council of Management). It was a harder job to establish this principle than is imagined today. The Trust is not merely a supporters' body (often contrasting with elsewhere), and if the Railway continues to grow I believe internal democracy must be safeguarded and, indeed, strengthened. This is fully consistent with our need to comply with all legal, regulatory, operational and health & safety requirements.


My involvement extends over 28 years, including chairmanship of 1990 Emergency Committee, set up to prevent imminent bankruptcy and avoid advice of business experts to wind-up the Swanage Railway. Later I was 17 years your Trust Chairman, when our first priorities were repaying all debts, reorganising and rationalising internal structures, while simultaneously funding and building-on from Harmans Cross to Corfe Castle and Norden - including key construction of new rail-over-road bridges at Afflington. Costs were driven down to minimum in meeting these objectives. We now have a most favourably-located heritage and community line of ideal length, but let us remember the lessons of earlier times, especially care with money, self-reliance and the need to inspire and keep volunteers. Today I'm also concerned at 'Cash appeal fatigue' among members, while legacies are a welcome bonus - not an income stream.


My background is in marketing and local government. I currently chair the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership, which co-ordinates interests of the SR, local councils and other stakeholders as plans develop for regular Wareham services.

Term ends: 2020. Proposed by: Howard Fry. Seconded by: Andrew P.M. Wright

Mike Whitwam

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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. Proposed by: John Lindsay. Seconded by: Stuart Magnus

Steve Williams

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

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