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15.11.13

Railway skills and young people

Source: From: Peter Jarvis

Our diminutive railway in deepest Wales needs to recruit young people to learn some ancient skills. So every year we have Kids' Week, where we take 40 young folk aged 14-16, put them in blue overalls, big boots and orange visivests and teach them to be railwayfolk for a week.

They have tuition from some exceedingly senior people and they come back for three years, if they want, after which they are able to volunteer in a more senior capacity.

We now have kids of kids. We have girls who want to drive steam engines and boys who want to be chefs. True, there are beach parties and barbecues; one young lady said she'd really come for the social life, but she quite understood some bricklaying was involved. Another young lady, having learnt tiling, tiled her grandmother's bathroom, her university lodging bathroom and somebody's kitchen.

It is delightful to watch them learning skills in a closed environment with perfect safety.

We have also had young Network Rail platelayers (we still use the old term) to learn tracklaying without 90mph trains whistling past. We teach first aid. We teach electrics. The skills we teach are transferable. And it is all tremendous fun.

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