GWR train name fame for kind hearted care home manager and fundraising postie

Thursday 24th September 2020

BBC and Great Western Railway celebrate Make a Difference Superstars

Two community heroes from Somerset who selflessly helped others at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic are to have their names featured on the side of a Great Western Railway train.

Kind-hearted care home manager Christopher Dando and fundraising postie Evette Chapman have been chosen as BBC Make a Difference Superstars.

The pair were selected by judges following a link-up between the BBC and train operator GWR to celebrate those community heroes who have been going above and beyond during the pandemic.

Now plans are being made for their names to be added to either end of a high-speed Intercity Express Train. 

Chris Dando. Make a Difference Superstar holding a computer image of a train with his name on it.
Selfless: Care home manager Christopher Dando with his train illustration

Christopher helped to ensure the safety of the 23 residents at Court House Retirement Home in Cheddar by gathering a team of carers and locking themselves into a safe bubble.

It meant staff didn’t see their families for three months, working round-the-clock to keep the pandemic at bay. Christopher, who went without seeing wife Alison and daughters Chloe and Edith, led by example, working in the kitchen, helping with personal care, emptying rubbish, cutting the grass and organising morale-boosting events for residents and staff.
 
The story touched the whole community, who were constantly leaving supplies on the doorstep and sending messages of support.

Evette Chapman. Make a Difference Superstar holding a computer image of a train with her name on it.
Fancy that: Evette Chapman with her train illustration

Royal Mail worker Evette put a smile on residents’ faces by gathering a team of 12 fancy-dress colleagues to deliver the post and raise money for the Love Musgrove Covid-19 Response Fund, helping nurses and patients at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton. Within a month they had raised more than £5,000. 

Evette also arranged for a convoy of Royal Mail vans to deliver a gift to a girl awaiting major heart surgery, and during September has spearheaded a fundraising month to support the homeless.

Over the past few years she has also helped raise thousands of pounds for Elliot’s Touch, a charity in Watchet helping to fund research and find cures for Mitochondrial Disease in Children.

GWR Interim Managing Director Matthew Golton said:  
 
“The GWR has a long and proud history of naming trains after Great Westerners – past and present heroes from across our network – and to that list now we can add the names of Christopher Dando and Evette Chapman.
 
“It has been a privilege to partner with the BBC Make a Difference campaign and learn more about people like Christopher and Evette who have helped to make such a huge difference in their communities during the pandemic. 
 
“Listening to BBC local radio we were particularly overwhelmed by the stories of these two winners and I hope our train-naming ceremonies will serve as a fitting tribute to them.”

BBC Somerset was one of nine local radio stations to team up with GWR and the names of 18 Make a Difference Superstars will adorn its high-speed trains. 

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said

“I have been blown away by the efforts of all the Covid-19 heroes during the course of the pandemic. Their dedication and compassion has been truly heart-warming, and made a huge difference in their communities. 

“These trains will be a lasting reminder of all those who have gone the extra mile to keep this country going.”

Stephanie Marshall, head of the BBC in the West and South West, said

“The pandemic may have been the worst of times for many of us, but it has brought out the best in so many people.
 
“Since lockdown began nearly two million listeners have contacted their BBC local radio station either looking for help, or in many cases offering it out through the Make a Difference campaign. 
 
“The stories of local heroism have helped put a smile on faces across the country and I’m incredibly proud that our local radio teams played a part in that.”
  
With more people starting to use trains again operators are reminding passengers to:

  • plan ahead – travel at quieter times where they can, buy a ticket online and in advance, and book ahead if you need travel assistance
  • consider others – wear a face covering unless you’re exempt, not travelling if you have Covid symptoms and consider others, not all disabilities can be seen
  • stay safe – maintaining your distance wherever possible; wash your hands and carry hand sanitiser, paying contactless where you can.
GWR has been providing rail services throughout the pandemic and has worked to ensure that these are as safe as possible. This includes increased cleaning regimes and the use of a virucidal spray; extra staff at key stations to offer help and guidance; and processes in place to help customers maintain a safe distance where possible such as restricting the number of reservations available.  

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.com. GWR is a FirstGroup company.