WE have a wonderful team of volunteers at Didcot Railway Centre and last week, together with other holders of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, we celebrated 15 years of that scheme.

Many of our volunteers come a long for a day to guard or drive one of the trains while others stay for a weekend to work on all kinds of projects from digging holes to restoring carriages.

Some jobs take a bit longer than a weekend and every August we have our Work Week when volunteers come along for the week (it runs from Saturday to the following Sunday so is actually nine days) to do even more good work. Two of the busiest groups are our Signal & Telegraph (S&T) and Civil Engineering Departments who make the most of Work Week to catch up with all those jobs that they have been putting off until there is more time or better weather.

The S&T Department do a great job maintaining the signals on our Branch Line. There is a lot of work involved in making sure the signals and level crossing gates are freshly painted and the flowers around the Signal Box are looking their best.

This year the team has been setting up our new exhibition, The Signalling Centre, so they have some catching up to do on their regular maintenance.

The Signalling Centre has proved very popular since it opened at the end of June, although we don’t know if that is because of the interesting exhibition, which tells the story of how trains were controlled from the earliest days of the railway policeman to the 1960s Swindon Panel, or because it is the only public area that is air conditioned!

The Civil Engineering Department specialises in digging holes and are always looking for more people to help.

They too have been very involved in building The Signalling Centre and are looking forward to getting back to their other projects.

This year they intend to start work on ‘the concrete building’, a prefabricated Great Western Railway building donated by Oxfordshire County Council from the Didcot Parkway station forecourt works.

One of the most dedicated teams is the small group (John and Andrew) who have taken on our version of painting the Forth Railway Bridge – as soon as they have finished painting the wooden railings and corrugated iron platform shelter of Didcot Halt it is time to start all over again.

The other group that works very very hard during Work Week is the 38 Mob who take time out from restoring a steam engine to open our famous Black Python Real Ale Bar for the week – and it is much appreciated!