The thought occurs to me – though I am sure many readers will already be aware – just how much extra activity occurs in volunteers’ own time, over and above the hours they put in actually at the Railway. This is, of course, largely a labour of love since there is no-one making the volunteer do it and there is often no reward other than personal satisfaction, save that of knowing that we do the Board’s will (to slightly misquote St Ignatius).
There are many examples and, without taxing the memory banks or thinking outside Cheltenham Racecourse Station, there are committee meetings to attend, items which are mended out-of-hours, kit purchased and collected, blogs written, stock taken, accounts balanced etc etc (!).
More strategically, many of our volunteers offer their time and efforts free of charge to help provide the operational direction of the GWSR, willingly serving in capacities which involve contributing ‘professional’ expertise which would otherwise cost a small fortune.
And that’s just the day-to-day running without the special events efforts which make the difference between an organisation which just about breaks even and one which (hopefully!) continues to have the capacity/capability to grow.
All this was prompted by the rather more practical – but equally valuable! – efforts of Mary Harris in support of a recent ‘cream tea’ special. The visible headline was of course the numerous passengers enjoying delightful refreshments in comfort on a splendid train service. One – and only one – of the back stories was that Mary needed to take home all the napkins, table cloths etc and load up her washing machine, then dry them:
Now I am quite sure that – given the ORR and all – in ideal circumstances all this would be done centrally, managed and paid for by the Railway. However, the reality of a volunteer-run organisation is that it will always rely on people going the extra mile to provide that extra service so appreciated by our customers.
So this blog is a very small tribute to all that unremarkable and largely invisible activity: from writing the Board’s Management Plan to washing the linen, from taking one’s own matches to light a fire to donating books to sell and from maintaining websites to fixing wheelbarrow tyre punctures!
It all goes to make a railway.
Your garden looks splendid as well by the way Mary!