New Somerset Explorer charity train launched this Saturday to celebrate the life of Bob Smart, former chairman of Visit Somerset

Thursday 11th May 2017

GWR has announced its latest one-off charter train in aid of charity, this time taking passengers on a special journey from London Paddington to Somerset.

The train will have special poignancy as it will be celebrating the life of Bob Smart previous visit Somerset chairman who died on the 12th May 2016 after a short illness.

In partnership with Visit Somerset and the West Somerset Railway, the Somerset Explorer charity High Speed Train (HST) will operate from Paddington, to Bishops Lydiard and on to Minehead via the West Somerset Railway on Saturday 13 May.

The special charter service will help passengers visit parts of Somerset’s famous attractions in celebration of the life of Bob Smart, former chair of Visit Somerset who passed away in May 2016.

At Frome passengers will also have a choice of a coach tour of some of Somerset’s most iconic destinations or staying on board to travel over the West Somerset Railway towards Minehead, before returning to London via Weston-Super-Mare.

Visit Somerset Chief Executive John Turner said:

"Bob was a tremendous force within the tourism industry in Somerset and we are all truly humbled by this incredible offer by Great Western Railway to charter this special train from London Paddington for our beloved friend and colleague.

“We have an added opportunity to market the county to large numbers coming on the train from London many of which are train enthusiasts keen to experience West Somerset Railway.”

The coach tour will take passengers to the city of Wells and Cheddar before travelling to Weston Super Mare for the return train journey towards London. Those on board will have two hours for an optional tour of the Archbishop’s Palace in Wells before travelling to Wookey Hole and a two hour visit to the World-famous caves.

The Somerset Explorer is in aid of Weston Hospicecare, where Bob Smart spent his last days last days in May 2016. All profits from this trip will be donated to the charity, which provides palliative care and support for people living with life-limiting illnesses.

Chief Executive of Weston Hospice Care Paul Winspear said:

"We are absolutely delighted with this very generous gesture from GWR.  Each year we have to raise £2.7 million and so the money raised from this event really will make a great deal of difference to us. 

“It will support the care of local people, like Bob, affected with a life-limiting illness, helping us to give our patients access to pain relief, expert help and support to give them the best quality of life.”

Owner of the Grand Pier and Visit Somerset Executive Board Director Michelle Michael:

“This is a truly innovative way to acknowledge Bob's dedication to tourism in Somerset. We are delighted the memorial train will be bringing new visitors to a county he worked tirelessly to promote and at the same time helping to raise much needed funds for Weston Hospicecare.”

Tickets are on sale now from just £35 return; £17.50 for children aged 5 to 15; or at the reduced price of £30 per person for groups of four.

To book your place please visit the Somerset Explorer tickets page.

Notes to editors

Great Western Railway (GWR) provides high speed, commuter, regional and branch line train services. We help over 100 million passengers reach their destinations every year - across South Wales, the West Country, the Cotswolds, and large parts of Southern England.

We’re currently seeing the biggest investment in the network since Brunel so we can offer more trains, more seats, and shorter, more frequent journeys and continue the network’s heritage of helping connect more businesses to new and prosperous markets. Through a series of initiatives we aim to be a good neighbour to the communities we serve and are committed to making a positive social impact in those regions. Learn how we're Building a Greater West at GWR is a FirstGroup company.