Swanage Railway Trust
Introducing boys and girls from the age of 13 to a range of roles and activities around the Swange Railway.
Photo: Colin Stone
The Swanage Railway’s youth group, the Sygnets, provides a way for young volunteers to experience a range of roles and activities around the railway. Taking boys and girls from age 13, Sygnets enjoy a mix of formal and informal learning opportunities.
As well as railway-specific topics, these opportunities include gaining skills valuable away from the railway too, such as First Aid, and Moving and Handling; and also life skills around communication, team working and building self-confidence. We try to ensure that each meeting includes an opportunity to ride on the railway, and to learn about all aspects of safely operating and restoring the railway. All our activities are risk-assessed and take place in the context of a working steam railway.
At age 16, Sygnets are encouraged to move into volunteering with one of the departments, but are mentored and supported through Sygnets until they are 18. With an ever-aging volunteer workforce, Sygnets provides the railway with a stream of knowledgeable and enthusiastic young volunteers. The skills learned in Sygnets are often transferable too, and a steady flow of ex-Sygnets find their way into careers on the national rail network or the wider engineering industry.
The Sygnets normally meet one Saturday a month. We have occasional visits to other railways (including local miniature railways), fund-raising events, and an annual social event. Socialising together – often with a barbecue involved – is an important aspect of monthly meetings.
We are able to take a limited number of young people in Sygnets, and there is normally a waiting list to join. If you’re interested we suggest contacting us from around age 11; but we do sometimes take older applicants if they’re keen to get involved in the railway.