Punchline Business and Community Champion: Steam railway donates to foodbanks
By Sarah Wood | 29th April 2020
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway's (GWSR) catering team has donated about £1,000 worth of food and drinks to the Tewkesbury Foodbank and Tewkesbury Community Hub, for distribution to those in need during the coronavirus lockdown.
And it has earned them a nomination as a Punchline Business and Community Champion - an initiative backed by GFirst LEP, the Growth Hub, Gloucestershire County Council and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The railway is currently closed and will remain closed for the foreseeable future, thanks to the crisis. The donated items are stock purchased by the GWSR for the 2020 season, which would usually be sold through the volunteer-run cafés and buffet cars on trains.
Richard Summers, GWSR's volunteer retail & catering services director, said: "We had stocked up for the new season, including special events that, sadly, are now cancelled or postponed.
"Our trains, which ordinarily operate between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway only ran over two weekends before the lockdown. The things we have donated are likely to pass their best before date before we are able to resume services."
The donated items include little luxuries, alongside essentials.
Richard said: "They include items you might not ordinarily find in a foodbank - for example, crisps, chocolates, packaged bakery items and biscuits, sweets and soft drinks.
"We on the railway have always enjoyed the support of the local community so it's a pleasure to be able to put something back."
Marion Badham, project manager for the Tewkesbury Foodbank said: "We're thrilled to receive these items and I know many of the people we are taking care of will be delighted to get some 'goodies' alongside their basic groceries.
"The railway has a special place in our hearts and lots of local people are either members or enjoy riding on the trains.
"It's wonderful that the railway's first thought was to pass on the things they obviously can't sell to worthy causes such as ours. It would be such a shame if they were to go to waste."
Mike Paganini, area manager of the Tewkesbury Priors Park Community Response, said: "Many of our volunteers are very familiar with the GWSR and were delighted that the railway has been able to support us.
"We are adding these rather lovely items to food parcels for families, especially those who are finding the lockdown tough, for example those with disabled youngsters. We've had wonderful feedback from them saying that crisps or chocolates or a soft drink added to their supplies makes their day a little bit better."
The GWSR is facing its own crisis, as not only does it have no income, but it is having to pay out substantial sums of money to repair a landslip that developed over the winter, near Gotherington. Last month, the railway launched a £quarter-million appeal which has already passed the £200,000 mark - helping to secure the future of this popular heritage railway line in the Cotswolds.
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Punchline's Business and Community Champion Awards are sponsored by:
The Growth Hub Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire County Council
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