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Volunteer Testimonials

Norman Swindle

How long have you been a volunteer at NTSR? 

I became a volunteer immediately on returning to the museum having enjoyed the first steam train service to operate when the railway opened in 1991. 

 

What do you do/get involved with? 

I have been involved with operating the train service by becoming an engine driver. I also help with maintenance and restoration work and now concentrate on painting locomotives and rolling stock. 

 

What do you enjoy about volunteering? 

Driving is fun and painting is rewarding so I get enjoyment from two sources. It's good to make a contribution in helping to create something which would otherwise not exist, and which brings pleasure to so many people. 

 

What skills have you gained from volunteering? 

Knowledge and understanding of locomotive operation together with engineering skills. Basically, all new experiences that I did not encounter in my normal day job. 

 

What would you say to anyone thinking of volunteering at NTSR? 

Having some skills already is obviously very useful but even if you are new to a railway environment, suitable training is provided. Everyone has to start somewhere.  By becoming a volunteer, you are under no obligation. Come when you can. Do what you can. 

Norman Swindle an old man in overalls stands in a steam engine smiling.

Robert Kitching

How long have you volunteered at NTSR?
I've been a NTSRA volunteer for four years now. 

What do you do/get involved with at NTSR?

I have always had an interest in steam and railways, so I joined the railway and in the last four years I've been a cleaner, learning the basics of a steam loco and I'm now a qualified fireman. So, raising steam on the engines, helping to operate the trains, and talking to the public.


What do you enjoy about volunteering?

When volunteering at the railway there are three parts which make it enjoyable for me. Firstly, being involved with steam locomotives and running and maintaining them. Secondly speaking to the public, meeting new people from all over the UK and telling them some of the history of our railway. Finally, the social aspect, I've met loads of new people and made many new friends too. 


What skills have you gained from volunteering?

I've gained a number of skills from basic woodworking, painting, helping to maintain steam locomotives. All of which I have developed during my time at the railway. 

What would you say to anyone thinking of volunteering at NTSR?

Do it! It is a brilliant chance to meet new people, gain skills and best of all be part of a traditional steam railway.

Robert Kitching a youn man wearing heritage clothing covered in soot is smiling.

Katie Wright

How long have you volunteered at NTSR?
Since Summer 2019 so over 1 year.

 

What do you do/get involved with at NTSR?
I started out as a cleaner and trainee fireman but more recently have been involved with PWAY (track) work and workshop engineering. I’ll be up for getting involved with anything though.

 

What do you enjoy about volunteering?

It’s a job like no other, having the opportunity to work on bringing history to life, restoring and operating the engines and continuing to keep heritage alive – this gives me a sense of pride. I have never stopped learning and always look forward to trying new skills and opportunities at the railway.

What skills have you gained from volunteering?

I’ve gained a lot of confidence and independence, as it was my first time in a real workplace, working with lots of new people and trying out a completely new experience. At the same time, I’ve gained practical skills in engineering, learning more than I ever thought I would.

What would you say to anyone thinking of volunteering at NTSR?

Just go for it. I only planned to volunteer for one summer but changed my mind, after spending only a few weeks there, to stay! You never know what you might learn or gain from volunteering – There are so many different roles and opportunities.

Katie Wright, a young woman smiles at the camera, wearing navy overalls with soot on her face.

Bob Stapley

How long have you volunteered at NTSR?

Ever since the railway opened to fare-paying passengers in the autumn of 1991. Two other NTSRA members and I bought the first tickets issued to the public for a train ride to Percy Main and back, and not long afterwards I started to get involved with the Railway.

What do you do/get involved with at NTSR?

At this time, I volunteer as Duty Operations Manager on operating days. I am secretary of the Volunteers' Association, a post which I held from 1994-1997, then again from 2001 until the present day. 

Since 2001 I have been editor of the Association's newsletter, which is usually issued 4 times per year.


What do you enjoy about volunteering?

Being part of a team, which works together to ensure the efficient running of the railway. Being part of the wider Tyne and Wear Museums and Archives team. Interaction with members of the public. Becoming aware of complimentary comments from visitors, about the railway, the rolling stock and the personnel involved in operations.


What skills have you gained from volunteering?

In the 1990s I achieved the status of passed cleaner on steam locomotives. However, any further advancement was disrupted with the unexpected closure of the railway, on health and safety grounds, in 1996. Thereafter I concentrated on duties as train guard and Duty Operations Manager. More recently I have ceased taking on guard's duties and now concentrate on the role of Duty Operations Manager.

What would you say to anyone thinking of volunteering at NTSR?

Give it a go! You will be made most welcome. You will work alongside a dedicated and enthusiastic group of volunteers and will be given thorough training in whatever role which you find interesting. If you are interested in local history, our railway is full of it.

Michael Darling

How long have you volunteered at NTSR?

I’m Michael and I’ve volunteered at the North Tyneside Steam Railway since 2007.

 

What do you do/get involved with at NTSR?

I get involved with all aspects of the railway from driving the trains and repairing the tracks to painting the rolling stock and managing the lineside vegetation to name but a few.

 

What do you enjoy about volunteering?

My favourite thing about volunteering at the NTSR is being able to do my hobby with my best mates. Being a small railway, most of the volunteers know each other and many of us socialise outside of the railway. 

 

What skills have you gained from volunteering?

I’ve gained a number of skills through volunteering on the railway. I’m qualified to drive our front loading tractor which we use to load coal in to the engines as well as getting my chainsaw ticket to be able to cut down the lineside vegetation.

 

What would you say to anyone thinking of volunteering at NTSR?

To anybody thinking about volunteering, I would say do it! We have volunteers of all ages with a range of different interests and skills. There is no minimum time commitment. A volunteer who comes in for half a day every 6 months is valued the same as a volunteer who commits 2 to 3 days per week. As the railway continues to develop with new and exciting projects, there has never been a better time to join us.

Michael Darling, a man in navy overalls smiles in front of an engine.

George Rollinson

How long have you volunteered at NTSR?

I have been volunteering for almost five years although I’d been considering the idea for much longer. Due to the nature of my employment, working half the year out of the country, it would fit in with other commitments.

 

What do you do/get involved with at NTSR?

Coming from a marine engineering background my main involvement is workshop based. Whilst my apprenticeship was in marine engineering my bias was as a machinist in a ship repair and dry dock company. Whilst at sea the engineering aspect covered almost every conceivable item of machinery. 

 

What do you enjoy about volunteering?

I enjoy the volunteering idea as I feel I’m giving something back and for me to be able to pass on my knowledge to others is satisfying. I've also resurrected many of the skills I learnt during my apprenticeship.

 

What would you say to anyone thinking of volunteering at NTSR?

I would encourage anyone to pop along or just enquire as to what’s available. Irrespective of your background there will always be some tasks you could be involved in. It’s not all about nuts and bolts, there are too many to mention day to day activities in maintaining the site in general. 

George Rollinson, a white haired man uses machinery.

Richard Russell

How long have you volunteered at NTSR? 

17 years, since 2004

What do you do/get involved with at NTSR?

On a whim really, when I moved to a new school I was introduced to Michael Wortley through a mutual friend, we discovered a shared love of trains and decided to cycle to the railway one weekend to have a look around, the rest as they say is history. 

What do you enjoy about volunteering? 

That no two days are ever the same, be it on the operational side of things or in the workshop there’s always something different going on. 

What skills have you gained from volunteering?

Too many to list really, so here goes: Problem Solving, Forklift Driving, Welding, Metal Fabrication including machining, Joinery

What would you say to anyone thinking of volunteering at NTSR?

Definitely do it! There is a place for everyone at the Railway.

Richard Russell, a young man with glasses, flat cap and overalls stands smiling in front of a green steam engine.
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