Express & Star

Pensioner who volunteered at Severn Valley Railway for three decades returns for day out

An 85-year-old man who volunteered at the Severn Valley Railway for three decades has returned to his old place of work for the first time in 10 years.

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Alfred pictured at the railway with his son, Colin, and his daughter-in-law, Susan.

Alfred Astbury, who is a resident at the Foley Grange Care Home in Kidderminster, visited the railway as part of its Step Back To The 1940s event.

Having first started going to the railway with his family in the 1970s, Alfred decided to volunteer there once it had been extended to Kidderminster.

Travelling from his home on the Wirral, Alfred would work on the railway and help to restore vintage train carriages.

Now, a decade on from his last visit, Alfred took a trip down memory lane and returned to the railway for a day out with his family and care team from Foley Grange.

He said: "I found the trip very enjoyable. I love talking to other residents about the trains because I know a lot about them from when I volunteered at the railway.

"My favourite part of the day was when I got to blow the whistle with my son and stepped up on the footplate, as this was something I used to do when I worked here. It was nice to be able to go back after so many years."

Colin and Alfred pictured working on the railway

With an enthusiasm for trains in his blood, Alfred's son, Colin, has followed in his father's footsteps, having now worked and volunteered on the Severn Valley Railway for 40 years.

Colin said: "Dad and I worked on the footplate of the steam engine that passes the site of the Sugar Beet Factory in Kidderminster, which is where Foley Grange Care Home was built in 2021.

"Dad's room at Foley Grange overlooks the Falling Sands Viaduct so he can watch our trains go by. When I'm driving the train, I always wave and blow the whistle when I pass."

Alfred visited the railway with family and the care team at Foley Grange

Hannah Atkinson, who is the home manager at the care home, said it was a "pleasure" to take enthusiast Alfred back to the railway.

She continued: "We all had a fantastic day at Severn Valley Railway's Step Back to the 1940s event – but no one more than Alfred. It was amazing to hear him talk so passionately about the trains and his memories from working there.

"At Foley Grange, we're always looking for ways to give our residents unforgettable experiences that they'll cherish, so it was a pleasure to see Alfred enjoying his trip down memory lane."