West Somerset Railway supporters have shown their commitment to the Railway and determination not to be beaten by vandals by donating over £1,000 to repair the damage in less than 24 hours.
Vandals sadly struck the West Somerset Railway (WSR) on 29th April at around 9pm with an attack on a railway coach stabled overnight at Bishops Lydeard.
They smashed three large carriage windows and two door windows in the attack which it iris estimated will cost £1,000 to replace and repair. The attackers posted a video of the attack on social media which has been widely circulated and even broadcast on BBC TV’s local ‘Points West’ programme.
The WSRA, the Railway’s supporting charity, responded by launching a facebook fundraising campaign to raise the money for the repairs. In less than 24 hours over £1,100 had been raised and the total now stands at £1,248 with more to come from the government ‘gift aid’ scheme which adds 25% to donations from UK tax payers. The fundraising campaign was launched with the suggestion that 100 people gave £10 each, to achieve the required £1000. To date, 76 people have donated and the value of the donations ranged from £4 to £100. The social media campaign allowed everyone of whatever means to make a valuable contribution and reflects the inclusive nature of the West Somerset Railway.
WSR plc chairman Jonathan Jones-Pratt said:
“This attack was horrible for the Railway’s dedicated staff and volunteers who put in many hours maintaining our vintage vehicles to give visitors a taste of nostalgia on a trip to the seaside. Local people have rallied round and helped identify the perpetrators. We have passed our information to the Somerset Police and trust that swift action will be taken.”
WSRA chairman Paul Whitehouse said:
“It was so heartening to see how folk have responded positively to this mindless destructive act. We have had hundreds of messages of support. We are engaged on a refurbishment and repainting programme for the Railway’s carriages at our Williton works, and it costs around £5,000 to paint each coach. If supporters would like to mark their displeasure at this act of vandalism and support for the Railway, the appeal remains open until the end of May and any donation would be most welcome. It will be used to enhance the Railway’s carriages so that some good can come out of this episode.”