The Great Western Railway, and the communities around it, have been shaped by many inspirational individuals. Our new fleet of Intercity Express Trains celebrate these people and their legacies by bearing their names.
Each train will have its own identity, with their name accompanied by an individual coin specifically designed to reflect the person themselves. This is inspired by GWR’s heritage where the flagship locomotive King George V bore a set of commemorative coins.
The trains that we have already named are featured below, including biographical information on each person as well as pictures and videos from the ceremonies.
800003 Queen Elizabeth II / Queen Victoria
Named by HM Queen Elizabeth II, on the 13 June 2017, to mark 175 years since Queen Victoria became the first monarch to travel by train.
800003 was used to recreate the historic journey from Slough to London Paddington - with HM Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip, on board.
Pictured: HM Queen Elizabeth II names 800003 at London Paddington
At London Paddington, with the statue of Brunel watching on, Her Majesty officially named the train Queen Elizabeth II / Queen Victoria.
The coins on the train carry the official flag of the Royal Family – the Royal Standard; which is used to indicate the presence of The Queen, with its first use in its current form in 1837.
With Windsor Castle so near, there’s always been a strong link between the Royal Family and the railway. So, it’s a fitting tribute for 800003 to bear the name of Her Majesty and Queen Victoria.
800004 Isambard Kingdom Brunel / Sir Daniel Gooch
800004 was officially unveiled on 30 June 2016, with the names of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Sir Daniel Gooch adorning the driving ends.
The occasion marked 175 years since the first train ran from Bristol to London.
Pictured: 800004 crosses Maidenhead Bridge on 30 June 2016
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
This revolutionary engineer designed and built the Great Western Railway – from bridges and viaducts, and the two-mile long Box Tunnel, to the famous Paddington, and Bristol Temple Meads stations.
His bridge designs – Maidenhead Railway Bridge, Clifton Suspension Bridge (Bristol), and Royal Albert Bridge (near Plymouth), are key engineering monuments that celebrate the South West.
Around the world, Isambard Kingdom Brunel is known as one of the greatest engineers ever. And, as founder of the GWR, he truly deserves his place on our first named Intercity Express Train.
Sir Daniel Gooch
The first Superintendent of Locomotive Engines from 1837 to 1864 - and Chairman of the Great Western Railway from 1865 to 1889.
Having worked at Robert Stephenson and Company, Gooch persuaded Brunel to buy two locomotives from them - North Star and Morning Star – that became the basis of the GWR Star Class.
In 1840, the GWR Firefly Class followed. And in 1846, he designed the first complete locomotive built at Swindon - the GWR Iron Duke Class, able to reach 70 miles an hour.
In our new Intercity Express Trains, the revolution he started continues to inspire today.
800009 Sir Gareth Edwards / John Charles
800009 pays tribute to Welsh sport, having been named after Sir Gareth Edwards, and John Charles, on 7 March 2018 - when London celebrated Wales Week.
GWR is the proud custodian of the railway that links Cardiff with London, and it was across this.
Pictured: Sir Gareth Edwards signs 800009 at Cardiff Central
Edwards, revered by many as the greatest rugby player of all time, signed the train at the Welsh capital’s station before travelling to London alongside John Charles’ widow, Glenda.
At Paddington, Juventus football club welcomed the train with kits from Charles playing days on show.
Sir Gareth Edwards
Edwards won his first cap for Wales in 1967 - at the age of 19. The following year, he became the youngest player to captain the side.
He was ever-present in a Welsh team, that dominated the Five Nations Championship - winning the title seven times, including three grand slams.
He appeared 10 times for the British and Irish Lions – playing in the 1971 team, that were the only side to win a series in New Zealand, and in the 1974 team that went unbeaten in South Africa.
He was knighted in The Queen's Birthday Honours 2015 for services to sport, and for charitable services.
Rated by many as the greatest British all-round footballer, Charles played at Leeds United for eight years. Scoring a total 150 league goals, he set a season record in 1956-57 – and remains their second highest all-time goal scorer.
In 1957 he joined Juventus, scoring 108 goals in 155 matches, winning the scudetto three times, and the Italian Cup twice. He also came third in the Ballon d'Or (world player award) in 1959. Nicknamed ‘Il Gigante Buono’ (The Gentle Giant), he was never cautioned or sent off.
In 1997, Charles was voted by Juventus fans as the club’s best-ever foreign player.
He played 38 times for Wales, scored 15 times, and helped them reach the quarter finals of the 1958 World Cup – the only time the country qualified.
Pictured from left to right: Glenda Charles, Paolo Garimberti (President of Juventus Museum) and David Griffiths (President of Football Association of Wales)
800010 Michael Bond / Paddington Bear
On 10 January 2018, 60 years of Paddington Bear were celebrated as Michael’s daughter, Karen Jankel, unveiled the names.
Pictured: Karen Jankel, Michael Bond’s daughter, alongside 800010
The doors were decorated with pictures of Paddington Bear from the original Peggy Fortum illustrations, and images from Paddington 2 the movie.
Thomas Michael Bond grew up in Reading, where he developed a love for the old Great Western Railway locomotives that passed through the town. While working for the BBC, he published his first book, ‘A Bear Called Paddington’, in 1958.
The world-renowned character was based on a lone teddy bear on a shelf, in a shop near London Paddington Station on Christmas Eve 1956. Since then, more than 35 million Paddington books have been sold worldwide.
Paddington Bear, from ‘deepest, darkest Peru’, was sent to the United Kingdom by his Aunt Lucy. In the first book, the Brown family find him alone at Paddington Station, sitting on his suitcase, with a note that reads ‘Please look after this bear. Thank you.
Taking him back to their home at 32 Windsor Gardens, near Notting Hill, they name him Paddington.
Even though he’s polite and kind-hearted, Paddington’s adventures always end up getting him into trouble!
800019 George ‘Johnny’ Johnson / Joy Lofthouse
On the 22 June 2018, GWR celebrated 100 years of the RAF and marked 75 years since the historic Dambusters raid in WW2 by naming 800019 after pilots George ‘Johnny’ Johnson and Joy Lofthouse.
Johnny unveiled the names on the train at a ceremony held on Platform 3 at Bristol Temple Meads station.
George ‘Johnny’ Johnson
George ‘Johnny’ Johnson is the last surviving British member of the Dambusters raid. He was just 22 when he participated in the famous offensive that saw 19 Lancaster bombers drop specially-designed bouncing bombs on dams in the Ruhr Valley in Germany.
Johnson, who now lives in Bristol, served as a bomb aimer whose duty was to release the four-tonne explosives, which he said looked like ‘glorified dustbins’.
After the war, Johnson became a teacher and taught people with learning difficulties. He has helped raise money for charity and was presented with an MBE for services to World War Two in 2017.
Pictured: George Johnny Johnson in front of 800019
Born in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, Joy Lofthouse was a 20-year-old bank cashier when she replied to an advertisement to join the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). She became one of 164 female pilots who, during the second world war, transported military planes around the country.
Throughout her time with the ATA, Lofthouse flew 18 types of aircraft, including 400mph-fighters, all of which she navigated using maps and landmarks she could see from the cockpit.
In 2008, Lofthouse received a commemorative badge for her work with the ATA, issued by the government. She was also a patron of the charity Fly2Help, which encourages flying among young people.
800020 Bob Woodward / Elizabeth Ralph
Unveiled at Bristol Temple Meads on Wednesday 18 April, Bob Woodward – along with family, and Elizabeth’s former colleagues from Bristol City Archives were present as 800020 was named before their eyes.
Rightly featured in our 100 Great Westerners, these two Bristol heroes – Bob celebrated for his amazing charity work and Elizabeth remembered as a formidable public servant for the region, are now icons in our Intercity Express Train fleet.
Bob Woodward OBE
In 1974 Bob Woodward was a successful property developer when his eight-year-old son Robert was diagnosed with cancer.
Seeing what few resources were in place for children and their parents at the time, Woodward created a setting where families could be together while their child was treated.
Woodward went on to found charity CLIC (Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood) in 1976, which later merged with Sargent Cancer Care for Children to form CLIC Sargent.
Woodward was also chief executive to The Starfish Trust, for which he still fundraises despite retiring in 2013.
In 2011, he was given a Lifetime Achievement award for his charitable work at the Pride of Britain Awards and received an OBE in 2014.
Elizabeth Ralph (1911 - 2000) became archives clerk to Bristol City Council in 1937, rising to city archivist two years later. She remained in this post for more than three decades and was praised for her organisation and securing significant collections relating to the city’s history.
Ralph helped protect the archives during the Bristol Blitz of the Second World War.
Her public offices included first female chairman of the Council of the Society of Archivists and general secretary of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, a post she held for 38 years before becoming president.
She also wrote several works on the archives and history of the city.
To mark International Women’s Day in 2017, the Bristol Post named Ralph among the city’s top 100 women.
800026 Don Cameron
Bristol International Fiesta Founder Don Cameron MBE joined us on Platform 13 at Bristol Temple Meads to celebrate 40 years of the world-renowned festival – he even brought a balloon basket along with him.
Glasgow-born balloonist Don Cameron moved to Bristol in the 1960s. He helped design Britain’s first modern hot-air balloon, Bristol Belle, which took its premier flight in 1967.
After leaving his job as an aeronautical engineer, Cameron made a career of building and designing hot-air balloons, forming Cameron Balloons of Bristol in 1971 – now the world’s largest hot-air balloon manufacturer, producing up to 200 a year.
Pictured: Don Cameron standing in front of 800026
In 1979, Cameron launched Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, which is the biggest of its kind in Europe.
Among his many achievements, Cameron was the first to cross the Alps and the Sahara by hot-air balloon and crossed the Atlantic in 1992.
802101 Nancy Astor CH
With over 40 members of the Astor family present, Intercity Express Train number 802101 was named by Nancy’s granddaughter the Honourable Emily Astor on 28 November 2019.
Nancy Astor was the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons after winning the Plymouth Sutton by-election, a seat previously held by her husband Waldorf.
In fact, Nancy was an American citizen, having come to England when she was 26 and marrying Waldorf Astor shortly afterwards.
Nancy faced massive prejudice entering the totally male dominated House of Commons chamber with 700+ MPs determined to freeze her out, including those in her own party. She famously clashed with Winston Churchill on many an occasion.
Pictured: Dr Jacqui Turner (Leading Astor Historian – Reading University), Ruth Busby (Human Resources Director – Great Western Railway), the Honourable Emily Astor (granddaughter of Nancy Astor), Dr Helen Pankhurst (great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst)
But she was not without controversy and with views, which are unacceptable today, but were very much commonplace in that interwar period. Her views were often exaggerated, embellished, and sometimes twisted by a hostile Parliament and press which could not accept a female presence in this kingdom of masculinity.
Without doubt Nancy did so much to further the cause woman in politics, but also the cause of those from all classes and statue, fighting against prejudice in a male dominated environment.
The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism takes a nuanced approach – celebrating Lady Astor as a “trailblazer for women in politics” but stressing her views towards Jewish communities needed to be remembered, saying: “Hopefully that will serve as a lesson that in our time we must not sacrifice our solidarity with a minority community for other priorities, however worthwhile.”
800025 Captain Tom Moore
800025 pays tribute to Captain Tom Moore and his remarkable fundraising achievements during the Covid-19 crisis.
It was named in response to requests from both GWR colleagues and members of the public, re-entering service on Thursday 30 April 2020 – the date of Captain Tom’s 100th birthday.
Pictured: Captain Tom Moore completing laps in his garden
Captain Tom captured the hearts of the nation during the Covid-19 crisis, raising more than £30 million for NHS Charities Together.
The Second World War veteran originally hoped to raise £1,000 before his 100th birthday, but his pledge to walk 100 laps of his garden went viral and more than one million people donated to his JustGiving page.
Captain Tom’s fundraising feat was further boosted when his duet of You’ll Never Walk Alone, with musicals legend Michael Ball, reached No1.
Originally from Keighley in West Yorkshire, Captain Tom joined the British Army in June 1940. His regiment – the 8th Battalion, the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment – trained in Wadebridge, Cornwall, tasked with coastal defence against a threatened German invasion. He later served on the frontline in Burma.
Captain Tom completed 100 laps of the 25-metre (82ft) loop of his garden in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, before his birthday on 30 April, leading to praise from the Royal Family, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other famous faces, as well as calls for him to be given a knighthood.
802006 Harry Billinge MBE
D-Day veteran and fundraiser Harry Billinge was there to personally name Intercity Express Train 802006 at a ceremony in Penzance on 7 October 2020.
Pictured: Harry Billinge at the naming ceremony of the Intercity Express Train 802006 in Penzance on 7 October 2020.
Harry Billinge A veteran of D-Day, Harry was 18 when he landed in the first wave at Gold Beach in 1944. He was a sapper attached to the 44 Royal Engineer Commandos and was one of only four from his unit who survived. He went on to fight in Caen and the Falaise Pocket in Normandy.
Harry was awarded an MBE in the 2019 New Year Honours List for his extraordinary fundraising efforts in St Austell for the Normandy Memorial, where he has raised more than £50,000.
The train also honours those from Harry’s unit with the symbol of a Commando beret next to Harry’s name, plus the 22,442 men who were lost during the Normandy landings, with this number displayed next to the train’s identification number.
He said: “I am thrilled that this train is being named after me, but this is about remembering the fine men who fought that day, lots of whom never went back home again.
“It’s important that their memory is remembered, and I hope this train will carry that message to thousands of people every day.”
Johnny Mercer MP, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, said: “Harry’s an inspiration and a daily reminder of that incredible generation. We can never say thank you enough for the privileges and freedom we enjoy today because of your sacrifices 75 years ago.”
802010 Corporal George Sheard
Part of GWR’s commemoration of 75 years since the end of World War 2, Cpl George Sheard was honoured during a naming ceremony in his home city of Plymouth on 14 October 2020.
Pictured: Sarah Holmes, Great Niece of George Sheard, with family members.
George was one of the 10 Royal Marine Commandos who took part in Operation Frankton – a daring mission to destroy German supply ships in Bordeaux Harbour.
They became known as ‘Cockleshell Heroes’, travelling by kayak up the River Gironde from the Bay of Biscay to plant limpet mines to cargo ships which were supplying the Germany war effort.
Of the 10 men who went on the mission in December 1942, only two survived, six were captured and subsequently executed and two drowned – one of them being George Sheard, aged 27. The names of all those who took part in one of the most famous raids of the war are also carried next to Corporal George Sheard’s name.
Major General Matt Holmes CBE, Commandant General Royal Marines, said: “It’s a great honour that GWR has decided to name a train after Cpl George Sheard for his sacrifice and for us to enjoy the freedoms of travel in memory of his service.”
800306 Allan Leonard Lewis / Harold Day
GWR marked 100 years since the end of the Great War by unveiling a special train for fallen railway workers.
800306 features the names of all 2,545 men who worked for GWR and died during the war. The Roll of Honour features details of where they worked for the company, their rank, regiment, where they were killed and where they are either remembered or buried.
During a special remembrance service at Paddington station on Friday 9 November 2018, the train was also named after two of those who died, Lance-Corporal Allan Leonard Lewis VC, and Flight Sub-Lieutenant Harold Day DSC.
Pictured: The 800306 in Paddington station, on Friday 9 November 2018.
Lance-Corporal Allan Leonard Lewis VC
Why Lewis was omitted from the original GWR Roll of Honour remains a mystery.
Born in Herefordshire, Lewis moved to South Wales to find work and was employed by GWR as a bus driver in Neath before joining the Army in March 1915.
GWR has no record of Lewis on its Rolls of Honour or War memorials, and it may be that he joined up without the company’s agreement, and thus lost his post and pension rights.
On 18 September 1918 at Rossnoy, near Lempire, France, Lewis was in command of a section held up by intense machine-gun fire. He crawled forward alone, successfully bombed the guns and by rifle fire made the whole team surrender. Three days later he rushed his company through the enemy barrage but was killed while getting his men under cover from heavy machine-gun fire. This heroic deed led to the award of the Victoria Cross.
Great Niece Dawn Lewis said:
“Why Allan was never included on the GWR Roll of Honour is a mystery, but I am thrilled that his extraordinary valour is now commemorated in such a spectacular and moving way.”
Flight Sub-Lieutenant Harold Day DSC
Day is recognised as the only railwayman to become a flying ace during the First World War.
Born in Abergavenny, he joined GWR as a premium apprentice at the Swindon Works. He joined the Royal Naval Air Service in January 1917, just before his 19th birthday.
His ability as a fighter pilot was proved with his first victory in August that year and between December 1917 and his death in February 1918 his status as an ace was guaranteed with a further 10 victories. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Immediately after his last victory on 5 February 1918, his Sopwith Camel N6379 collapsed while diving on enemy aircraft at excessive speed, and crashed at Harnes, near Lens, France.
Great nephew Nicholas Blake said: “Our memories of Harold are limited to the recollections of our grandparents, who spoke of him with fondness and sadness. His ability as a pilot is clear and he was daring and courageous without question. We are thrilled that his day will be associated with the company he worked for in this way.”
800014 Megan Lloyd George / Edith New
Two influential female Great Westerners who furthered the role of women in society were celebrated on 8 March 2019.
International Women’s Day was marked with the naming of a train after Megan Lloyd George, the first female MP for Wales, and Edith New, a leading suffragette.
Pictured: 800014 Megan Lloyd George train naming.
Megan Lloyd George
Daughter of former Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Megan was the first woman to be elected an MP from a Welsh constituency when she won the seat of Anglesey for the Liberals on 30 May 1929.
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s she campaigned for a Welsh Parliament and the creation of a Secretary of State for Wales.
She was elected Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party in 1949 but stood down three years later after losing her seat.
Megan defected to Labour and won a by-election in Carmarthen in 1957, holding the seat until her death from breast cancer on 4 May 1966, aged 64.
With over 37 years’ public service, her dedication saw her become the longest-serving woman MP of the 20th Century.
Pictured: Edith New train naming.
Born in Swindon, Edith was a leading member of Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union movement.
She was one of the first suffragettes to use vandalism as a tactic for getting voices heard in the campaign for women’s right to vote. During a protest in June 1908, Edith and another suffragette, Mary Leigh, broke two windows at 10 Downing Street.
They were arrested and sentenced to two months in Holloway Prison. Upon their release a parade was held in their honour by a delegation of suffragettes including Christabel Pankhurst.
Edith left the suffragettes in 1911 to resume her career in teaching and in later life retired to Polperro in Cornwall. She died on 2 January 1951, aged 73.
802008 Rick Rescorla / The RNLB Solomon Browne
Heroic feats were commemorated during an emotional ceremony at the Long Rock train depot open day in Penzance on 13 April 2019.
802008 was named after Rick Rescorla, a Cornishman who saved thousands of lives during the 9/11 terror attacks in New York, and Solomon Browne, the Penlee Lifeboat lost at sea during a daring rescue attempt in 1981.
Pictured: Rick’s widow Susan attended the ceremony in Penzance on 13 April 2019.
Born in Hayle, Cornwall, Rick became a US citizen in the 1960s and was head of security for Morgan Stanley, a bank based in the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York.
When the terror attack happened on 11 September 2001, Rick evacuated more than 2,500 employees, singing Cornish songs as he went. He then returned inside and was last seen on the 10th floor looking for more people to evacuate.
The 62-year-old was one of 2,605 people who died when the two towers collapsed. His body was never recovered.
Rick’s widow Susan attended the ceremony along with friends and family who live in the US and Cornwall. She said: “Rick was so proud of his Cornish roots. To know he is being honoured in this way and is remembered with such fondness is great comfort. I know he would be so proud of this.”
Pictured: The train naming ceremony at the Long Rock train depot.
The RNLB Solomon Browne
The crew of the Penlee Lifeboat were lost at sea on 19 December 1981 when it launched to rescue the passengers and crew of the vessel Union Star.
The cargo ship’s engines had failed in heavy seas and wind speeds of up to 100mph. Solomon Browne was able to pull alongside and rescue four people.
The lifeboat radioed that ‘we’ve got four off’, but that was the last heard from either vessel. In all, 16 people died, including eight volunteer lifeboat crew.
The names of coxswain William Trevelyan Richards, mechanic James Madron, Nigel Brockman, Charles Greenhaugh, John Blewett, Kevin Smith, Barrie Torrie and Gary Wallis feature on the side of the train.
A spokesperson for Penlee Lifeboat said:
“What an amazing day at the GWR open day where some of Cornwall’s heroes were recognised. An emotional day for us all.”
800023 Kathryn Osmond / Fleur Lombard
800023 pays tribute to Bristol paramedic Kathryn Osmond, who fought tirelessly to raise awareness of the skin cancer melanoma, and Fleur Lombard, the first female firefighter to die on duty in peacetime Britain.
Both were nominated as part of Great Western Railway’s 100 Great Westerners, with their names adorning either driving ends of the train.
Pictured: Kathryn Osmond train naming ceremony at Bristol Temple Meads.
Kathryn worked as a paramedic for the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation (SWAST) for 16 years. After a battle with melanoma she passed away on 18 April 2017 – the date of her 41st birthday.
The train naming ceremony took place at Bristol Temple Meads exactly two years to the day – on 18 April 2019 – in front of members of Kathryn’s immediate family, friends and a large contingent of SWAST colleagues.
While coping with her illness Kathryn fought tirelessly to raise awareness of melanoma and to find the “magic bullet” to beat it.
Alongside colleagues, she helped to raise tens of thousands of pounds over the course of a year through various challenges. One of the most memorable was when dozens of her colleagues took to the Clifton Suspension Bridge to do the Running Man Challenge.
Pictured: Fleur Lombard train naming ceremony at Bristol Temple Meads.
One of only eight women among Avon’s 700 firefighters at that time, 21-year-old Fleur Lombard died on 4 February 1996 fighting a blaze started by an arsonist at Leo’s Supermarket, Bristol.
Together with firefighter Robert Seaman, Fleur entered the building to search for missing persons and to help contain the fire. Shortly after entering conditions deteriorated and the firefighters were ordered to evacuate. It was at this point Fleur was tragically caught in a flashover and was killed by the intense heat.
This tragedy led to major design changes in the safety equipment worn by both male and female fire fighters and has helped save many lives since.
The naming ceremony took place in front of members of family, friends and fire service colleagues at Bristol Temple Meads on 14 May 2019.
Fleur was nominated by Kerry McCarthy MP, the Bristol East MP who said: “I am really pleased that GWR is paying this tribute to the bravery of Fleur Lombard, who tragically lost her life in the line of duty. Public service often goes unrecognised, and Fleur made the ultimate sacrifice, while doing her job. This will help ensure that her bravery is not forgotten.”
From Derbyshire, Fleur moved to Bristol to begin training as a full-time firefighter, having served as a retained firefighter. On graduating in 1994 she received the Silver Axe Award for the most outstanding recruit in her training school; and was posthumously awarded the Queens Gallantry Medal and the Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation in recognition of her bravery.
800314 Odette Hallowes
Highly-decorated World War Two spy Odette Hallowes was honoured during a memorable ceremony at Paddington station on 6 March 2020.
HRH Princess Royal performed the train naming in front of guests including members of Odette’s family, representatives from the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry and members of the French Embassy.
Pictured: Odette Hallowes
Odette was a French citizen who lived in London and on the Devon and Somerset border. She became a Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the most highly-decorated spy of the war.
Captured by the Gestapo in 1943 and interrogated 14 times, Odette convinced her captors she was related to Winston Churchill. Believing she could be useful, her life was spared. She was attached to the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry as cover for her secret work on behalf of SOE.
The train naming ceremony formed part of a series of events marking International Women’s Day on 8 March. After the ceremony the train formed the 1132 London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads service and was operated by an all-female crew and dispatched at stations on route by female dispatch staff.
As well as Odette’s name, the train carries 16 badges of the SOE representing the 16 women who served in this unique unit but never returned home.
Odette’s granddaughter, Sophie Parker, said:
“It means so much to our family that Odette is being recognised and remembered in this most moving way. Odette’s story is one of courage, dignity and hope; all of which were so important to her during her wartime service, and in overcoming the torture she suffered.
“I know Odette would be extremely humbled by this honour, and would want it seen as a tribute to all those brave women of the Special Operations Executive, especially those who never returned home.”
800036 Dr Paul Stephenson
Civil rights pioneer Dr Paul Stephenson was present to see a train named in his honour on 30 October 2020 as Great Western Railway celebrated Black History Month.
Dr Paul Stephenson OBE
Dr Paul Stephenson at his train naming.
Dr Stephenson has been dedicated to fighting for equality and civil rights for the British African-Caribbean community for more than 60 years.
In 1963 he led a boycott of the Bristol Omnibus Company, protesting its refusal to employ Black or Asian drivers or conductors. After a 60-day boycott supported by thousands of Bristolians, the company revoked its colour bar.
Then a year later he achieved national fame when he refused to leave the city’s Bay Horse pub until he was served, resulting in a magistrates’ court trial of which he was rightly acquitted.
It was his determination to fight for an end to discrimination during these campaigns that led to Harold Wilson sending Dr Stephenson a telegram saying: “I will do something about this”. A year later, in 1965, the first Race Relations Act was passed.
Dr Stephenson was awarded an OBE in 2009 ‘for his services to equal opportunities and to community relations in Bristol’ and in 2017 received a Pride of Britain Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said:
“Dr Paul Stephenson has been dedicated to fighting for equality and civil rights for more than 60 years and I’m delighted that Great Western Railway should choose to honour one of our greatest Bristolians in this way.
“Black History Month gives us an opportunity to celebrate Black contributions to British society and it is fitting that GWR has Dr Stephenson to the list of those Great Westerners whose names adorn its trains.”
800310 Wing Commander Ken Rees
Second World War pilot Ken Rees, who played a vital part in the ‘Great Escape’ from a German prisoner-of-war camp, was honoured during a ceremony at Swansea station on 7 May 2021.
Wing Commander Ken Rees
Second World War Wing Commander Ken Rees.
A pilot with Bomber Command, Ken was shot down over Norway in October 1942 just two weeks after getting married.
He was taken to Stalag Luft III, a prisoner camp designed for captured airmen and the scene of the ‘Great Escape’.
Ken was a digger on the Tunnel ‘Harry’, the longest of all the tunnels and the one used in the escape. In the film of the famous mission, Steve McQueen’s character is said to be based on Ken due to his antagonistic attitude towards his captors, a result of his brother-in-law, Sqn Ldr Harold Starr, being shot and killed while parachuting to safety.
After the war Ken became a flying instructor and later commanded a Valiant V-bomber squadron. In 1967 he commanded the RAF’s island staging post at Gan in the Indian Ocean before retiring a year later. He passed away in August 2014, aged 93.
The unveiling of Wing Commander Ken Rees' named train.
Among those present at the train-naming ceremony were RAF Air Officer for Wales, Air Commodore Dai Williams, the RAF Queen’s Colour Squadron, and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, David TC Davies.
A message was also played from Ken’s son Martyn, who lives in Australia and was unable to attend the ceremony because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“The family would like to thank Great Western Railway for commemorating my father today. He was a proud Welshman who served his country during the war and for many years after as an officer in the RAF.
“This wonderful acknowledgement of his service is something about which he would be both bemused and thrilled.”