Ann Middleton is commercial manager at Didcot Railway Centre

WE are coming to the end of our busy summer season at Didcot Railway Centre and we have been reflecting on some memories of the year.

When guarding at Didcot one Saturday, on our first run down to the far end of the main demonstration line, there was a heron sitting in the middle of the track.

Richard the guard sounded the coach gong twice, but the bird hardly moved and the train went over the top of it, fortunately without hitting it.

On the way back, Ann the driver and Nick the fireman watched out for it and the bird was still there, so they stopped short.

Nick picked it up, carried it to the fence and put it down safely the other side.

It was clearly dazed and in shock, so it must have either hit something – maybe some overhead wires – or been attacked by another bird, because you normally can’t get within 50 yards of a heron before it flies away.

It scurried off to hide under one of the wagons.

It didn’t seem to be physically hurt, as it could use its legs and wings properly.

Later it returned to the track and stood dangerously near the train several times, until Nick again picked it up and handed it to Paul the duty manager, who received a nip from its beak as he took it (pity it wasn’t another member of the heron family, or he could claim to have been bitten by a bittern).

There was no apparent damage to the heron’s wings or legs, though Paul said that there were some scratches on its neck.

The second time it was put well away from the running line, in an area where it could hide amongst some weeds.

After a while it recovered enough to fly away, but we don’t know whether it survived after that.

In September we start running our Heritage Diesel Days and one of our star attractions is Diesel railcar No 22.

On the luggage rack is a large toy lamb, with a label bearing the following message: 'This is to certify that Larry the Lamb is permitted to ride on the footplate and in the car to fulfil his role as traction inspector. Felix Pole, Chairman GWR'.

In reality, Felix Pole was the General Manager of the GWR in the 1920s and was a very go-ahead man.

And of course, Larry the Lamb was a character in the subversive 1950s children’s radio series Toytown, in which adults were depicted as stupid, greedy or deceitful. Of course that is not true of us at Didcot and our own Larry was a guest at our well-known summer Teddy Bears’ Picnic.