First Great Western staff and passengers at Castle Cary station welcomed The Prince of Wales to Castle Cary Station. Prince Charles' visit was to meet those who worked tirelessly to keep people moving during the severe flooding to Somerset.
His Royal Highness arrived at Castle Cary Station to be greeted by Mr Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of First Great Western. The Prince of Wales met a number of First Great Western staff who went beyond the call of duty during the flooding, as well as hearing about First Great Western’s latest campaign to inspire travel in the region.
Guests included Customer Host Gail Collings and new mum Emylia Hall, who was pregnant with son Calvin at the time and travelling on a 1630 train from Paddington when her waters broke. Gail stayed with her, made sure she was comfortable and radioed ahead to organise for her to met at the station and taken straight to St Michael’s hospital. A mother to five with nine grandchildren Gail was great in keeping the situation calm.
The Prince also met with Castle Cary Duty Station Manager Paul Mitchell among others.
Paul is part of a small team of three that work at Castle Cary station. During the flooding Castle Cary was quite often marooned with no services West or towards London and with only a skeleton service of trains running on the local branch line. In 2013 Paul won a station staff of the year award, for his ongoing work at the station and the high praise in helping customers.
First Great Western Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:
“The closure of the railway line at Dawlish showed just how vital transport infrastructure is to both the local and national economy.
"During the two month period of the floods we put on thousands of extra buses and drafted in volunteers from FirstGroup companies across the UK to keep people moving. Throughout it all, our customers were extremely patient and supportive. Now we must continue that hard work, allowing customers the opportunity to reconnect with the area.”
The Prince of Wales's visit follows up on a previous trip to the Somerset Levels on 4 February 2014. His Royal Highness undertook a series of engagements intended to champion the West Country's Tourism Sector, and to recognise the fortitude of the local communities who suffered during the height of the winter storms.
During the flooding First Great Western launched a multimillion pound campaign to showcase the professionalism and dedication of their staff as poor weather continued to cause disruption. Highlighting the impact of the storms, the campaign offered a human face to show how the transport company worked flat out to maintain services, or offer an alternative, for their customers.
Over 160 buses were used to transport customers between Exeter and Newton Abbot where the railway line was inoperable. On top of the damaged railway line, one of the company’s major train maintenance depots was also cut off. Engineering staff volunteered to be sent away from their families to work from other maintenance facilities.
In June this year the company continued its promotional activity to inspire travel to the South West with the launch of a new “Be a Great Westerner Campaign” focused on encouraging more visits to the South West and South Wales.
The campaign features breath-taking photographic images of iconic places to visit, with the aim of being able to restore passenger numbers and return visitors to pre flooding levels.
You can watch a special behind the scenes making of the advert as well as the full advert.
Showcasing key locations across the Great Western network the television advert aims to inspire customers to Be a Great Westerner and to take advantage of the beautiful destinations on our own doorstep.
The Prince returned to London Paddington on a scheduled First Great Western service.