Page 1

issue 1 • 2017


in this issue Railway Mission l e personn s change

Eleven pages of news and info from chaplains across the country Tribute to Jim Mair Interview with Alan Thorpe Croydon tram disaster response Somme Remembrance

Support on life’s journey

in partnership with

Inside 3 From the Top 4 Jim Mair remembered 5 Chaplains attend Croydon Support on life’s journey

6 7 8 9 10 12 14 25 26 27

incident STM staff support Trauma Care initiative All change please! Nativity at Glasgow Central Down the Line Interview with Alan Thorpe Standing in the Gap Welcome aboard, Karen Somme Remembrance How to support Railway Mission

Railway Mission Rugby Railway Station Rugby • CV21 3LA

07718 971919

Railway Mission is a registered charity in England and Wales (1128024) and in Scotland (SC045897). A company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (06519565).

Cover shot photoshopped image from London Underground by Steve Rowe

From the Top Liam Johnston

Doing life together! There is a simple word that we all know. It’s a word that I hope 2017 will be the word for Railway Mission.

Together we stand, we move, we love, we journey, we overcome!

It carries the sense of our journey. It is a word that carries the weight of Life in every letter. It demonstrates unity and brings hope to the hopeless.

Together makes us feel included, part of something greater than ourselves. Together, Chaplains, Trustees, You our Partners and Office Staff, we are Railway Mission.

It is a word that shows Love is at the centre of all we do. A word that shows the world that Chaplains, Trustees, Office Staff and You, as you Partner with us in this work, share in Railway Mission’s Journey.

Last year we wrote to you and asked that you partner with us in prayer. Through this prayer we have seen the Lord’s hand at work, as we have had both generous gifts from you, our partners, but also from some of the railway companies.

So what is this word? It is simply this – Together! Together, we have life; Together, in unity we share the journey; Together, we move forward in love…

We are grateful to you all for your continued prayers as we work to reach out to the railway industry with the love of Christ – Together.

Alone we cannot achieve the things God has called us to. Alone we are isolated, cold and vulnerable.

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Liam Johnston is the Executive Director of Railway Mission


Jim Mair remembered It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the passing of Jim Mair, who was called to be with the Lord on 17 January. Our sympathy is with his widow, Janet and the family at this time. Due to family illness and his role as a carer for Janet, Jim stepped down from our Board of Trustees in 2013 but remained a close friend and supporter of Railway Mission. Jim came to faith whilst working at Aberdeen Station, and in April 1975 got in contact with Railway Mission through an advert in Railnews. He was active in sharing his faith on the railways in

Scotland. This was the early days of Railway Mission employing chaplains, with all the change and challenge that involved. In 1979 he joined the Railway Mission Board of Trustees, becoming Chairman in 1982. He worked hard to raise the profile of the Mission through personal contact with the then British Rail Chairmen (the Sirs - Peter Parker, Robert Reid and Bob Reid). Jim continued as a Trustee after stepping down as Chairman in 1997, and his wisdom and trust in God will be missed.

Jim Mair at his retirement lunch in 2013, with Railway Mission Chairman Keith Rose


Chaplains attend Croydon incident On 9 November 2016, just after 6:00 am a tram operated by Tramlink, running from New Addington to Wimbledon via Croydon derailed and overturned on a sharp bend approaching a junction. Although the speed limit approaching the junction was 20 km/h (12 mph), the tram was travelling at 70 km/h (43 mph), resulting in seven fatalities and 58 others injured. A casualty advice bureau was set up and the number for those with concerns and questions about injured person. Face to face welfare for family and friends was being offered at the Croydon Council building, Bernard Wetherill House. Railway Mission had three chaplains directly involved in supporting those affected by this terrible incident. John Robinson and Christopher Henley attended Croydon on the day of the incident. After a briefing with British Transport Police [BTP], John accompanied BTP Family Liaison Officers to Bernard Wetherill House to Support on life’s journey

support families awaiting news of their loved ones. Christopher remained to support BTP Officers who had been involved in the recovery operation, as Chaplain Dan Godwin supported Tramlink staff at the engineering depot and offices. As chaplains, we bring the light and love of Christ into the darkness of despair. Through the days that followed it was important that people had the opportunity to contact the chaplains as they needed, indeed one person called John at 3am. We continue to be available if required, and we continue to pray for those affected, family and friends of those killed and injured, local residents, police, fire and ambulance crews and as well as the Tramlink staff. But we pray too for our chaplains, for whom this has been the first time they have been involved in a major incident.


STM staffing solutions STM are a company providing staff to the railway industry that has found the chaplaincy service a valuable addition to the support services provided by the Company. The company Directors requested that the chaplain local to their head office, at that point Christopher Henley and now Michele Ashton (pictured above), visit them on a regular basis for a debrief and to introduce themselves to anyone they feel would appreciate talking and listening to a chaplain. Providing staffing solutions to a number of train operating companies, the company has asked for support for staff members from across the railway network. Chaplains have been asked to assist staff who have either been physically assaulted, witnessed a fatality, or have suffered a bereavement. In September at the National Rail Awards STM were shortlisted for the category ‘Team Work of the Year’. In the

STM are working closely with the Railway Mission who offer friendship and a listening ear to anyone connected with the nation’s railways

submission, the following extract can be read on page five. “As a result of this work STM are working closely with the Railway Mission who offer friendship and a listening ear to anyone connected with the nation’s railways. This link to our staff and assistance provided by the Chaplains has been invaluable in supporting our staff following a traumatic event, which, thankfully are rare.” It is wonderful that companies like STM take such care of their staff and actively look to support them by engaging with the chaplaincy service Railway Mission provides.

We’re always there for you… 6

Trauma Care initiative In early 2016 Merseyrail HR contacted Paul Holloway (above) to ask if he would be willing to attend an exploratory meeting with Merseyrail regarding a new Chain of Care and Support Booklet that the company was planning to put together. Other organisations taking part in this included the Samaritans, Network Rail, and BTP, each bringing some support to Merseyrail Staff. The Stations Facilities Manager noted how much help the chaplaincy has provided, and that Merseyrail HR were keen to highlight the support offered by Railway Mission to staff.

The new Chain of Care & Support booklet puts a useful resource into the hands of staff who suffer trauma or health issues

must use it for any Occupational Health Visits or Trauma Support. Paul said, “although Railway Mission is mentioned on two pages, people are more likely to look at a the full page picture with our contact details rather than read all the small print; they’ll flick through and see the full colour image and this will open hundreds of doors for the ministry.” Other companies have shown an interest in the booklet and this is a model that may be replicated in other railway companies.

The booklet is being distributed to all 1200 members of staff who

Railway Mission chaplains work with everyone and anyone in the rail industry, bringing professional, confidential , impartial support and pastoral care wherever it’s needed Support on life’s journey


Michele Ashton pictured with Christopher Henley as he introduces her to Stratford Station staff

All change please! Last year Nicola emigrated to Australia to be married and Joshua left the Mission to go into full time study for Church of England ordination. In March 2017, Alan Thorpe, after many years of faithful full-time service, will go to one day a week in a smaller area. We pray the Lord will bless each of them as they follow the Lord’s leading for their futures.

had a real sense that chaplaincy would be a great opportunity for me to help and support people.”

Consequently Railway Mission has been recruiting new chaplains. The first, Michele Ashton has been appointed as Railway Mission Chaplain to East Anglia and Liverpool Street, replacing Christopher Henley who has moved south to cover the rail network serviced by South West Trains, replacing Joshua.

Nicola will be replaced by Graham Whitehead and Steve Cosslett will take on Alan’s vacated areas. Latterly Graham worked for Scotrail as a Timetable Delivery Manager. Graham says “In a long career in the railway I have been able to share my faith and discuss ‘religion’ and God many times with those who are interested, challenged or seeking answers in their own lives. I believe that having a real place in the secular world of work has helped me to have these discussions, as I can relate to people’s lives and they can accept that I know what it is to be one of them.”

Michele comes to Railway Mission from the catering industry, where she had responsibility for over 50 school kitchens. Chaplaincy is a change of direction, but Michele says “I realised that my skills were transferable, and I

Steve comes to Railway Mission via Mexico, where he worked for One Mission Society as Field Director. Steve had a variety of roles; he sat on and advised the national church board, he directed the Mexican national church


As Railway Mission continues its journey, from time to time we see changes in personnel. In 2016, two of our chaplains moved on to new pastures and another is going from full time to one day a week in a reduced area, which means recruiting new additions to our teams.

planting co-ordinator, who oversaw a large team of professionals and volunteers. Steve also oversaw the Mexican Director for Proyecto MEFI (a ministry to street children and young people), and the Director of English ministries and Hope 61 (a ministry to educate the church on human trafficking). Steve was also serving as supervisor for the Rector of the Seminary in Mexico. We welcome Michele, Graham and Steve and look forward to introducing them to you properly in the future. We know that the skills the Lord has given them, the compassion and care they have for others, will enhance the support provided by the railway companies and we welcome them to a fantastic industry where they will shine a light in the darkness that will draw people to fellowship with Jesus.

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Nativity at Glasgow Central Christmas 2016 was an interesting time for Ruth in Glasgow. This is the first time ever that Glasgow Central Station displayed a full nativity scene with a barn! The Central Station Manager felt he wanted the true meaning of Christmas to be on display in Scotland’s busiest station. When Ruth asked him what prompted this and he said “it was our first Christmas carol service in December 2015 that I felt that we needed a nativity scene, so I researched it, ordered it from the States and it came in the February 2016.” Subsequently the present station manager added her flair and built a barn for baby Jesus! It was situated around the Christmas tree, for all to enjoy and see.


down the line

Railway Mission historian Dudley Clark continues his series

Silver and gold have I none In its first few years the Mission was dependent on overdrafts and bank loans to stay afloat. At the Annual Meeting in 1884 the Mission’s Treasurer confided, “I would like to bring before you the fact that all this work has been carried on at very little expense. At the end of the year 1882, your Treasurer was trusted with the magnificent sum of £42 18s. “I need not tell you that our anxieties increased as the work increased; so we set ourselves to get hold of our rich friends, and after working them very hard and pumping them very much — we succeeded in securing £1,291 as our income for 1883… Our assets at the end of the year just passed away were not very considerable. There was £100 in hand, but as against that we were left in possession of a great many unpaid bills amounting to £376 8s. 8d.” He noted that, “the passengers travelling on the different lines number 604

millions per annum… On account of it we have to deal with 400,000 men”. In 2014-15 some 1.65 billion journeys were made on main line railways with a further 1.3 billion on London Underground; and approximately 190,000 people employed in the industry. The president of the 1892 Annual Meeting, Mr Wyndham Portal, Chairman of the London & South Western Railway, commented that, “Much care has been exercised in keeping down expenditure, and the Committee have not been able to place workers at several important centres, owing to want of the necessary funds. “While deeply grateful to the friends of the Mission for their continued and generous help, the Committee would appeal to them to make known the work of the Mission among the Christian public. They feel that it deserves the


Railway Mission finances 1900 to 1947 Year

Totals expressed at present day values in £

Receipts for 2014/15

This graph shows the comparitive income for 2014/15 along the dotted

1947 1939

line, with historic figures expressed at present day values.

1930 1920 1910 1900 0





practical sympathy and support of all who use our railways.” Taking the balance sheets from 1900 to 1947 (see above) we can see that from growth before the Great War income had dipped after 1918. It then recovered, but declined steadily from 1930. In 1940 the Committee reported that, “The crisis of the past year and the outbreak of hostilities brought us face to face with financial difficulties, and the General Committee deeply regret that necessity compelled them to make reductions in the Mission Staff, as well as at Headquarters, but we are thankful to say that all through the anxious months the Mission has experienced the good hand of God upon us.”




through difficult times with the outgoings far exceeding the income causing a severe depletion in reserves, but in God’s providence, at a key meeting of the Association of Train Operating Companies Board in March 2002, the Train Operating Companies unanimously agreed to support the work in a structured manner that would go a long way to secure its future.’ Two years later Network Rail followed ATOC’s example.

In 2007 Chairman, Ian Markey, penned the following; ‘The Mission has gone

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Interview with Chaplain Alan Thorpe Can you give a brief history of your involvement with Railway Mission? From my conversion at age 15 I have always felt a sense of Mission and Evangelism. I served in two Churches and encouraged the members in visitation and witness. After 8 years in Pastoral Ministry an opportunity arose for us as a family to join the Railway Mission, and we relocated to Bristol to serve Western Region in British Rail days. I joined a team of just 2 others - Rev Phil Gomersall the General Secretary, and John Riley, the Senior Chaplain based in York. My brief was to evangelise the Lost and encourage and equip the Saved. That has been my constant goal.

in what is happening in their lives. Rail Directors and managers soon see who simply wants a free ride as well as who is genuinely concerned for people. Francis of Assisi counselled his followers to go and preach, and if necessary use words. Obviously a Chaplain uses words, but our life and lifestyle must also match our words. Folk aren’t mugs, and they soon detect anything false. What do you see as the value of the chaplaincy to the rail industry?

What do you see as the role of a Railway Chaplain?

The Chaplain’s value is difficult to quantify. It can’t be seen on a ‘spreadsheet.’ However, we visit staff in homes and hospitals, and hopefully get them back to work sooner; we can help in counsel in ‘human’ problems such as relationship issues, bereavement, illness etc.

To evangelise and encourage, but to achieve this we need to get to know the Railway Culture; to get to know rail staff at all levels and to be interested

Because the Chaplain is independent, and is known to the staff they will easily relate to him, often more than they would to a line-manager. We don’t beat 12

Since joining the railway there have been three constants, first, that there are always changes, second, there is always a need for a chaplain. Third, if you need a chaplain there was Alan. I am always impressed by the number of people to whom Alan has been a support; from senior directors to station cleaners, Alan knows and has helped them. However, after 35 years of faithful service to the railway industry Alan is stepping down as chaplain for the South West, but I am pleased his expertise will not be lost as he remains an associate chaplain in the Bristol area.

Liam Johnston Executive Director, Railway Mission

a Denominational drum; neither do we discriminate people who say they are atheist or pagan etc. We are there at the sharp edge with them, on the coal-face as it were. I received a letter of thanks from a rail couple after I had officiated at her mum’s funeral. Although this was many years ago I can quote her words. She wrote, ‘You are not like a ‘normal’ Vicar. You talk to us! Keep up the good work.’ I took that as a huge compliment. What have been the stand out events in your chaplaincy? I often say that a Railway Convert is worth 10 Church Converts, purely because we are on their territory. However, Eternity will reveal any lasting fruit, and it has been thrilling on occasion to lead folk to the Saviour as they have repented of their sins and found new life in Christ. I have also encouraged Railway Christians in their faith and witness. I have helped at least

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5 colleagues into full-time Christian Ministry (1 now a Baptist Minister; 1 now a Methodist Minister; 1 now an Anglican Priest; 1 now a Youth Worker in a Church in Manchester; and 1 who has been involved in Bible Translation). What advice can you give to new chaplains as they enter the industry? Keep close to God: keep close to man: try and bring the two together. Remember people’s names. Don’t just be with senior people. Treat all as equal. Remember we are on their territory. Care for people. Never forget your own boundaries which could be around safety, time, temptation etc. Someone described a Christian as being so Heavenly-minded to be of no earthly use - we need to make sure we are not so earthly-minded so we are of no Heavenly use. Always remember we are Ambassadors for Christ. Keep close to God.


Intercession is a form of prayer also known as ‘standing in the gap’ between man and God to pray on behalf of others.

Standing in the gap

chaplains’ news + intercession

Prayer support letters from chaplains Faithful prayer support helps us get across the line in many ways as chaplains. This section contains comments and observations from some of our Chaplains out on the Rail Network. Please use these comments as a basis for your understanding of the role and to indicate how to pray for the chaplains as individuals and as a team.

Andrew Hall

Chaplain for West Midlands and Chiltern Railways Northern Team Leader The last few months have seen quite a few staff move within their companies, change companies, or leave the industry. Station staff have moved into trainee train crew positions, guards have taken trainee driver positions and managers

have been relocated around the network. BTP have seen similar changes. This has introduced additional stress into all areas of the business and several directors and managers have asked myself and other chaplains to pay particular heed to certain areas or groups of people. For me, this has brought about a change in visiting patterns resulting in good opportunities to ‘see and be seen’ and also to engage in helpful conversations with some folk. It is useful being able to have a flexible approach to the work so that we can respond to changing situations. With franchise changes in the Midlands and issues over staffing the old adage ‘change is here to stay’ is more relevant than ever. Change shakes people from comfort and complacency and can often raise the bigger questions in life. It is in situations like this that I find some of the 14

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best opportunities to share about what sustains and encourages me.

Change shakes people from comfort and complacency and can often raise the bigger questions in life It may seem obvious, but the Mission as a whole, requires your prayers. In the northern group of chaplains we have seen a run of illness and injury which has had the effect of taking people out of the mission field for periods of time. I understand that there will be a wide range of views on this but your prayers are vital.

Ruth McBean

Chaplain for Edinburgh and East Scotland Over the past few months I have had an extended area to cover, since the departure of Nicola Goncalves. Therefore, my way of operating needed to change to being more a responsive one rather than having lots of meetings in the diary. I needed to be aware of my commitments and not overcommit myself, so I could respond when needed. As a result of building good relationships and networking with in the Glasgow area I managed to source suitable people to lead the armistice service in Glasgow, while I concentrated on Edinburgh. John Carrick our trustee was also involved in

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planning and conducting a service in Ayr. I have also had the privilege of attending staff rail awards in Coventry and Southport and an RBF fundraising dinner dance in Glasgow. It has been great to go to these events and support staff receiving awards. Many of the staff up for awards were drivers who went beyond the call of duty to assist passengers from danger. Over the past few months I have been dealing with a lot of fatalities, due to the increase of my area. Therefore, I have had more interactions with BTP, station staff, passengers, witnesses and CCTV staff. I have had a very warm welcome into the East and I look forward to building good relationships and I guess that is my prayer request. We have a new Chaplain starting in mid Feb, so I am thankful and am looking forward to establishing a good working relationship and ask for a good transition.

Paul Holloway

Chaplain for Merseyside, North Wales, Stafford and Rugby A recent request from Network Rail management to give pastoral care to one of their employees lead me to a staff member who had arrived home to find his wife hanging after attempting suicide. Fortunately, she


Standing in the gap

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was still alive and he was able to cut her down and summon emergency services. Thankfully after a time in hospital she has physically recovered. I was able to meet with this man on several occasions and support him through this awful ordeal. Our contact is ongoing and he has allowed me to pray with him and share the Gospel, he has also accepted a New Testament and Psalms which he is now reading. Merseyrail have produced a new Trauma Care and Support booklet which will be issued to all staff. They consulted me re the contents of the book and have subsequently featured a page regarding Chaplaincy Care and support with contact details for myself. Hopefully this will open doors with many new contacts in 2017. On a personal note please continue to pray for Gospel opportunities and spiritual and mental strength as we deal with many traumatic and emotionally draining situations.

Angela Levitt-Harwood

Chaplain for Yorkshire area and Kings Cross I was contacted by BTP with a view to supporting a family who had lost a daughter in a recent incident. I travelled to see the couple and spent time with them at their home. They faced a complex relationship issue


and I listened and supported them in the difficult decisions they had to make and I was able to talk about the forgiving of ourselves and others. I spoke with them initially about the feelings they were experiencing and coping strategies they could put in place. They were appreciative of the prayer offered and the service we give at Railway Mission to people like themselves who find themselves in such an awful situation and mentioned to BTP how happy they were about the level of care they received. I have maintained contact and they ring me at intervals to let me know how they are doing.

They were appreciative of the prayer offered and the service we give at Railway Mission to people like themselves I made a conscious decision to contact key personnel working for a particular TOC, meet with them and share in a more in depth way about the work we do at RM. This has led to a number of strategic conversations both about faith and about what we offer as Chaplains to the Industry. I have also spoken at regional meetings and have been well received and appreciated by those attending. While delivering calendars this time I also took literature about RM, my contact details and a poster with my photo, all aimed at reaching the widest number of people to offer our service. My prayer 16

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is that the seeds we put out will start to grow at the right time.

Ralph Coleman

Chaplain for East Midlands Since commencing my role as Chaplain for the East Midlands Area I have had the pleasure of meeting lots of staff and getting to know them. For me to get a true picture of their job roles I have worked a number of shifts, on platforms helping with passenger’s luggage, moving equipment, crowd control on busy days, on train, serving tea & coffee, washing up and also with British Transport Police observing and getting involved in their daily duties. This has involved a mix of day, evening & night shifts. All of this has helped me develop better relationship with staff giving me greater opportunities to share the Love of God with them. So far, I have seen two people come to faith which is very exciting. Please pray that they will grow in their new found relationship with God. There are also a number of people that I would ask you to pray for who I have had the privilege to share Christ with. These have shown a real interest in knowing more about God. One is looking to see if there is an Alpha course close to where they live. Another one has promised to go to church if I promise to buy & wear a Christmas jumper! Please pray that over the next year I have further opportunities to share

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I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land Ezekiel 22:30

about faith with them & that they come to a place of knowing God for themselves. Pray also for more opportunities to share about the work of Chaplains with church and other groups. Last year I spoke at over 15 events, including a local branch of the Rotary Club. I already have several in the diary for this year. These are not just opportunities to talk about my role and that of Railway Mission but also to talk about my personal journey and God’s sustaining Love.

Stephen Rowe

Chaplain for Euston, Eurostar and London Overground Southern Team Leader Although I am not a chaplain with Southern Trains, the industrial action and rescheduling of train times has affected Arriva Overground Train staff at stations they share with Southern Trains, mostly in South London. The vast majority of passengers are respectful towards staff, but some have taken out their frustrations on customer support staff simply because they are there, which can be traumatic for them.


Standing in the gap

chaplains’ news + intercession


I have consequently spent time talking with them and being a listening ear.

staff being asked to support a much wider geographical area than previously.

I was asked by Eurostar to work with them to assist with staff redundancies and changes following a downturn in passenger services, due to the terrorist activities in Paris and Brussels, as well as the refugee crisis in Europe.

I have met staff who have been working in stations for forty years, but it is still a daily occurrence to meet new staff and you can never be sure where or when you will meet them again. Alongside the short stopping times between stations this provides a different set of challenges to my above ground colleagues.

These things are always difficult to resolve for HR, so it was important to be available to staff and management. It is very much the case for chaplains that, being there for staff and management is almost as important as the actual interaction when it occurs. I’d also like to commend our chaplains in the South of London who gave support to BTP and rail staff following the Tramlink incident near East Croydon. There were seven of us involved in some way, four directly, and the availability of chaplaincy was appreciated by people involved.

Dan Godwin

One of our Chaplains for London Underground Chaplaincy on ‘the tube’ can be a varied experience, with most of my day shared between numerous stations on the London Underground. A lot has changed on the network over the last year with the introduction of ‘Night Tube’ and the completion of the internal restructuring known as ‘Fit for the Future’ which notably saw the closure of all ticket offices across the network and station

Working as a chaplain means having an open, honest relationship with everyone you meet The nature of the network, means that it is lively and buzzing and ever-changing. This unpredictability means it is impossible to second guess what I might become involved with at any station I visit. One moment I might just be catching up, whilst the next dealing with work place stress or family problems. It is a great strength of our Chaplaincy work that we can go and meet people where they are in the workplace. It has been a privilege to support and direct some station workers as a relationship of trust has been built up between us over time. The role is also a rare opportunity to model realistic honest Christian living to a society which mostly understands our faith by how it is portrayed in the media and not directly through Church teaching. Working as a chaplain means 18

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having an open, honest relationship with everyone you meet – and being prepared to listen and understand before speaking. Right now I can’t think of anything else I’d prefer to do. Having focused this issue on the daily routine of rail Chaplaincy I will look more broadly when suggesting issues for prayer. The first of these must be for the family and friends of all involved in the Croydon Tramlink incident last year and that I will continue to support the staff there as appropriate. In tandem to this, praying for the future safety of all workers across our regions nationally. I also ask for prayer for my growing relationship with management especially within the Sub-Surface line group which covers about a third of the tube network. Finally I would like prayer for spiritual strength and security for all chaplains. Even more so than in traditional parish ministry a chaplain will be almost constantly working alone dealing with those outside of the faith. I pray that God helps us represent him to the best of our ability and provides us with the strength to carry on in His name.

Humphrey Gillott

Chaplain for areas of North London, Milton Keynes and Northampton If I had a choice of being pro-active or re-active in my role as a Railway Chaplain, I would choose being pro-active. I love to plan my visits to see Railway People to ensure that I cover

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…in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God Philippians 4:6b

every railway installation in my area at least twice per year. I look forward in anticipation as to whom I might see on my visit and what we might discuss. Any manner of discussions might ensue, including family situations, sharing about my faith, or having a general discussion about the railway. However, very sadly, many of the hours I worked last year were because I had to be re-active; I had to respond in most instances because of death: sickness of someone in service; visiting the staff at the station at which the person was based; visiting them in hospital and eventually consulting with a friend over the details of the funeral service I had been invited to take; taking the service and then, again, visiting the station staff. I visited the widow of a retired railwayman, where she and the family had invited me to read the Eulogy at her husband’s funeral service. After each fatality on the railway, I make contact with the railway staff who attended the scene, and the relevant signaller, and visit the staff who were on duty at the time at the particular station, (if the fatality happened at a station). I had two ‘firsts’ last year: I was asked by the British Transport Police to contact 19

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the estranged partner of someone who had apparently taken his own life on the railway and also to contact a passenger, who had witnessed a fatality at a station in my area. 2017 began with two fatalities on the same day; neither victim seems to have intended to have taken their lives. Amongst other telephone calls that I made, I had a long telephone call one evening with the conductor of one of the trains involved.

Christopher Henley

Chaplain for London South West. Sadly, the more tragic side of Railway Chaplaincy has probably been the most effective. This, of course, is the occurrence of fatal incidents. In these situations, through a developing relationship with BTP, l have been able to engage with family and friends l may not have done previously. It has also brought me into contact with drivers, guards and driver managers who were not aware of railway chaplaincy. On one occasion, one guard in particular said to me “I am a Christian” which was the start of a lovely conversation about our Lord and Saviour and our journey. On another occasion, in the past week, I was talking to a Headmistress about travel, our journey and railway chaplaincy. This has resulted in an invitation to talk to


280 children at a local Prep school about travel, our journey and Faith. The most important thing has been being a presence to those that were not aware of the Railway Mission and Chaplaincy. A number of railway employees have said “You listen to us and have offered prayer for us, who do you talk to, who prays for you”? Perhaps this is an opportunity for them to pray for us Chaplains. This is an opportunity to pray for our continued support for them but also for railway employees to pray that we may continue to have strength, which we cannot do by ourselves, to continue this journey.

Alan Thorpe

Chaplain for the South West As many will know, my role with Railway Mission is changing as I will become the Associate Chaplain for Bristol in March and Steve Cosslett will be the new Chaplain for the South West. Here I would like to paint a picture of what God has done in the Mission over the years. When I joined back in 1982, I was part of a staff of 3 people. Some of the Mission Halls were still in operation and our primary activity was distribution of about 1000 ‘Railway Signal’ newspapers each per month as we were more of a Literature Ministry. Sometimes I felt more like a Postman than an Evangelist. Our Mission Field, then, was, of course, British Rail. Now, 35 years later, there 20

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is a staff of 25 with a healthy mix of full time/part time, gender and race all with a common bond in our Christian faith. We operate, fully, as Chaplains with all that entails in today’s climate. The Industry is now privatised and exists as many companies, each with its own management team and structure. As the Industry has changed, so has the Mission. The old emphasis on Chapels, Mission Halls and Literature has been replaced with an emphasis on railway people and meeting them in their work locations on their terms.

The old emphasis on chapels, mission halls and literature has been replaced with an emphasis on railway people The Industry has changed, the Mission has changed but human nature hasn’t. Man still needs a Saviour and the work of the mission continues alongside people with their spiritual, material and emotional needs. I pray that any seeds I have sown will be watered and nurtured and as a new Chaplain takes over from me with a new location, new style and a new anointing that the work will continue to be blessed and bring fruit.

John Robinson

Chaplain for London South East In November, I was faced with my first Major Incident

Support on life’s journey


…hear in heaven Your dwelling place their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause 1 Kings 8:49

as a Railway Chaplain. The tram disaster in Croydon involved my particular BTP team at East Croydon and I was called upon to work with both officers and family members alike. I spoke to all the attending officers after their shift finished and they returned from the disaster site. I was able to offer personal support on an independent, confidential basis to all involved. I was then transported to meet a family and spent the next seven hours providing care and support to them. The family, it later transpired, had lost a loved one in the disaster. The following day was spent at the memorial site, set up by BTP, offering support to friends and family members of the deceased. The experience was one leading to much reflection, sadness at the grief of the families involved and great thankfulness to God for allowing the Railway Mission to be in the midst of the situation, offering love, care and support as disciples of our Lord Jesus. I have recently taken over the Chaplaincy for the entire Southern Railway and am trying to create 21

Standing in the gap

chaplains’ news + intercession

relationships with key individuals within the organisation, such as the HR Team and Occupational Health. Please pray that these connections will prove fruitful in strengthening the Chaplaincy relationship between the Mission and Southern. I have a meeting arranged, in tandem with Liam, with both HR and Occupational Health teams of the BTP. Once again, please pray that this meeting builds stronger relationships between our two organisations.

Richard Cook

Chaplain for the North West The last few months have seen a heavy amount of ‘being there’ for staff. There has been a rash of cases of sudden deaths among staff over the patch. In some cases these have been a real challenge as some of the people who had passed away were very old friends. Being there with the staff, to weep with those who weep and to comfort those who mourn, was indeed a privilege for me and has been deeply appreciated by staff and management alike. This has opened many valuable doors by demonstrating just how valuable a true friend a chaplain can be. With the number of staff deaths in mind a pastoral approach has been the key and throughout the area staff have valued being able to talk to the chaplain. Please


do pray for all staff affected and that this work may not only continue, but flourish.

Michele Ashton

Railway Chaplain for East Anglia Liam Johnston and Christopher Henley introduced me to the role of a chaplain by taking me around to stations and other locations. I also had chance to work with two other chaplains to see different styles of the work which was a great start. I have been amazed at the way God has used me in the last four months. So many people have opened up to me with personal relationship problems, health issues and work related stress and a lot of these conversations have come about during my first visit with them.

Staff have told me that they look forward to my visit as I am always smiling and I always ask them how they are Unfortunately I have had 12 fatalities in my area and of these 2 were members of staff. Not all involved with an incident want my support but the fact that a chaplain has made contact with them has taken some people by surprise. The support I provide them with varies depending on the individual’s needs. Staff have told me that they look forward to my visit as I am always smiling and I 22

Standing in the gap

chaplains’ news + intercession

always ask them how they are, something that they don’t hear from anyone else. This has built up a good rapport with a lot of staff at all levels of work. I feel privileged to be able to meet staff during their work and in doing so, be there at a time of need. This year I have been keen to introduce myself to as many directors as possible. They have welcomed the work of the chaplains as a vital, confidential support to their staff. In fact, a director of Greater Anglia has given me the following points for prayer: ff Any colleagues who are ill or have family or friends who are ill. ff Everybody going through the organisational change at Greater Anglia. ff The safe opening of Ilford Depot on 23rd May 2017. I also value your prayers for two mothers I’m supporting, having recently lost their children to fatalities on the railway. The young lady had mental health issues and had tried several times to end her life. For the man it was totally out of character and it is hard for his family to take it in. Please can you pray for: ff A prayer partner or triplet to meet up with me and support me in this work. ff Sensitivity when supporting people. ff Safety as I travel around. ff Opportunity to share the gospel.


The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16b


Chris Newport

Chaplain for London West My aim has been to get around my area as much as I can. This has often meant some really early starts, and late finishes, however, this is not unusual in what we do. Another task this quarter is to break down the barriers of religiosity. It has taken time to build up trust so that staff open up to talk. Managers are now beginning to trust me and refer staff. British Transport Police are also referring both staff and passengers to me, so little by little we are gaining ground. I have been giving support to a driver whose wife was suffering from motor neurone disease and I visited her at home. Sadly, she has since passed away. I was asked to officiate at her funeral. The driver’s manager was present so she could see the level of trust that had been built up with the family. The greatest thing was to be able to lead the driver’s wife to the Lord before she died. The

Thanks for your prayers.

Support on life’s journey


Standing in the gap

chaplains’ news + intercession


funeral was full of hope and joy, which all present enjoyed.

encouragement and hope, in the midst of uncertainties, have been well received.

My prayer is for continued health and strength to accomplish all that God wants me to, that the TOCs really get the vision of what Railway Mission is achieving, and that the finance will be forthcoming.

I often find that I seem to be led to pop in somewhere at an appropriate time. I am privilege to support Staff members who are dedicated and committed to their job and who go the extra mile to ensure the station remains open to the public.

Dylis George

Chaplain for London Underground There has been a major change in Transport for London, based on the Fit for Future scheme which has been introduced. As a result, the London Underground has been on a massive recruitment drive. There are quite a good number of new employees who are still finding their footing in the job, while veteran employees are still trying to come to terms with aspects of the new system of operations. An Area Manager told me that the night tube operation has been going very well. So far, so good. However, the cleaning staff must be remembered in prayers as their workload is enormous during the night. In as much as recruitment of new employees has been going on, staffing issues have been a general challenge on a daily basis, posing a serious problem for management. My continued words of

Also, a major breakthrough is the weekend Night Tube service, which has been successfully rolled out into all the tube lines in my patch. It is very important that we remember all the Night Tube and BTP staff who work very closely with the London Underground team in maintaining order and ensuring safe travel for passengers during the weekend night operations. Going out on patrol with the BTP night staff, introduced me to the reality of life in the city of London.

Thank you! A huge thank you to all our supporters who have faithfully upheld our chaplains, Trustees and staff in intercession following the issue of our November Prayer Letter. We highly value your partnership with us, greatly appreciate the time you give, and acknowledge the impact made by your petitions to God.


Welcome aboard, Karen! Karen Stead has joined the Railway Mission office team on a temporary contract to help engage with grant making trusts.

We are excited about this appointment and hope that Karen will become a permanent member of the team. We are really pleased to say that we have had a sensational start to this project with one major donor agreeing to fund us with £60k covering the cost of one fulltime chaplain for two years. Another trust has also donated £500 to support the work. We pray that these will be the first of many such grants.

also with the main emphasis of raising money for charity. For one such event she approached Princess Diana’s brother to run a dinner party in his home raising funds for the Rainbow Hospice which was a huge success. We’re looking forward to more great ideas as Karen looks at ways of promoting Railway Mission amongst trust agencies.

Throughout her career and her personal life Karen has raised funds for charities. On a personal level Karen has raised money for a Christian charity by walking the Sahara Desert over 10 days with eight other people. In her previous job with Begbies Traynor Group she was responsible for raising the profile of the business. One idea she implemented was a Supper Club where she invited high net worth individuals to dinner parties and was then able to promote her company but

Support on life’s journey


British Mark 1 Male Tank • Somme 25 September 1916 • Photo: Earnest Brooks, Public Domain


Somme Remembrance 2016 marked the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme; many of the ‘Pals’ regiments which suffered so horribly came from the North West and several services took place at Railway Stations to mark the sacrifice of the members of railway staff who served King and Country and fell at the Somme. This was followed in November by Remembrance Services across the railway. One of these services was at Paddington Station, led by Chaplain Chris Newport. The Battle of the Somme was fought during the First World war, pitting the armies of the British and French Empires against the German Empire. In the months between July 1 and November 18 1916, the battle raged on both sides of the River Somme in France, with more than a million men wounded or killed in one of the bloodiest battles in human history. At the Chantilly Conference on 15 November 1916, it was revealed that an

estimate of 485,00 British and French, and 630,000 German soldiers were casualties. It has become a tradition in Britain to remember the men and women who gave their lives and fought during the world wars for the liberty of the free world by holding services at major railway stations across England, Scotland and Wales, and our Railway Mission Chaplains are heavily involved in organising and taking part in these wellattended ceremonies. The centenary of the Somme, then, marked a significant event on the Railway Mission calendar, as we honoured those who served their countries facing the terror of war.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13


Your donation takes us further… How your gift can make a difference £10 funds a chaplain’s 20-minute support meeting with a distressed member of rail staff, a BTP officer or a member of the travelling public. £50 buys a chaplain some of the essential safety clothing needed to support people involved in the scene of a rail incident or emergency.

£100 funds a series of chaplain’s visits to a sick or injured rail worker, or to the grieving family of someone who has died on the railways. £500 provides an area’s rail staff, BTP officers and members of the travelling public with support for a fortnight.

Six ways to help us support rail staff 1. Cheque or Postal Order

You can make a one-off or regular cheque or Postal Order donation by simply sending your gft to : Railway Mission, Rugby Railway Station, Rugby, CV21 3LA.

2. Standing Order

4. Payroll Giving*

There are tax benefits to Payroll Giving, and you can effectively match this option to Gift Aid. See the star option panel below for details…

5. Gift Aid

You can make a regular donation through your bank. Email our Administrator for more information:

If you’re a UK taxpayer, we can claim an extra 25% of your donation from the Inland Revenue, as long as you meet their conditions and complete, sign and return a Gift Aid form to us.

3. Web

6. Wills

Go to our website at and click onto the Donate page, where you can give via the Every Click website, or try other options…

To include us in your Will, our charity name is Railway Mission, our charity number in England and Wales is: 1128024., and our charity number in Scotland is SC045897.

How to consistently give more for less…

*Payroll Giving is a tax-efficient way to give

regularly through monthly payments from your salary. Because the donation is taken from your gross pay, every pound you give will only cost you 80p, or only 60p if you are a higher rate tax-giver.

“Going through a rough patch?” “I’m here for you” Paul Holloway Railway Mission Chaplain Email: Mobile: 07557 430 364

Railway Mission News Issue 1 2017  

News Publication of Railway Mission UK

Railway Mission News Issue 1 2017  

News Publication of Railway Mission UK