24th March 2022 admin

The Downs Light Railway Trust is delighted and honoured to receive match funding from The Helping Hand Company and the very generous donations from supporters of the Isherwood family’s 48 hour fitness challenge. The collective £50,000 provides 25% of the funding required to complete our Centenary Development Programme. This funding will go towards facilitating greater practical learning opportunities for young people, supporting and promoting career development into heritage railway, national railway, and STEM-related industries.

It’s a win for Lucy and Thomas!

[Left to Right] Tim Dunn (Historian and Television Presenter), Lord Faulkner of Worcester (President of the HRA and Patron of the Downs Light Railway Trust), Sophia Rose, Lucy Isherwood and Thomas Isherwood (Award Winners), Frederick Toher, Henry Needham, and Timothy Pennock (Chairman of the Downs Light Railway Trust)

On the 19th March 2022, the Downs Light Railway Trust attended the Heritage Railway Association’s Awards Ceremony as a short-list entry for the Most Innovative Fundraising Idea Award. The efforts of Thomas and Lucy were duly rewarded when they received the famous HRA plaque from Brian Simpson (HRA Chairman) and Tim Dunn (Historian and TV Presenter) on behalf of the Downs Light Railway Trust.

This award, sponsored by Hallett Oils, is awarded to a HRA operating member that has produced the most innovative fundraising project or scheme during the COVID-19 pandemic. We congratulate the Bluebell Railway and the Class 502 Preservation Trust for also getting shortlisted for this category.

The awards evening was a great opportunity for our young members to meet other railway operators, see all the great work done by other organisations across the heritage railway sector, but most importantly see that they and we are part of a bigger community. We were delighted to catch up with our patron and HRA President Lord Faulkner of Worcester. It was also great to meet familiar faces from other railways and foster new friendships.

During the early part of 2021, Thomas and Lucy nurtured an opportunity to raise significant funds for our development programme. Liaising with a local engineering business that gave Thomas work experience, they were given a target to raise donations within a three-month period. In return, the local engineering business agreed to match their funding by 20 times.

In between Thomas’s GCSE exams and ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, they sort approval from the Downs Light Railway Trust to fundraise. They developed a fundraising strategy by themselves, produced fundraising flyers in consultation with the Trust, and setup an online fundraiser. They investigated various options for a fitness challenge to engage their audiences. They promoted the fundraising through their social media accounts, emails to their class peers and teachers, and notices around their school. Thomas setup a live stream for the event on YouTube, so that donors could watch the 24-hour cycle from home.

They set themselves an ambitious target of £2000 and exceeded it during the 24-hour cycle to achieve £2,350. The local engineering company honoured their match funding pledge, awarding the Downs Light Railway Trust with a donation of £47,650 to bring Thomas and Lucy’s fundraiser up to £50,000. This amazing achievement has helped us complete 1/4 of the funding required for our Centenary Development Programme.

“The trustees and I are absolutely indebted to the Isherwood family, to those who supported their fundraiser, and to The Helping Hand company for generously agreeing to match the funding with such a large donation. This effort has provided one quarter of the overall funding required for our Centenary Development Programme. We move one significant step forwards in realising something quite special.” Timothy E. Pennock, Chairman, Downs Light Railway Trust