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By Allan Bott who is publicity manager for the Swindon & Cricklade Railway, which is Wiltshire’s only standard gauge heritage railway offering a 4-mile round trip using historical locomotives, carriages, and other vehicles.

Summarise how Covid-19 has affected your organisation? 

Since lockdown began, we have had to close our doors to the members and the general public. During this time, we’ve had no income at all and we’ve had to cancel a number of events that would have seen a big footfall across those weekends. 

Our maintenance schedules have also been put back. Our trackwork and locomotives etc are maintained throughout the course of the year, but the bulk is done in the winter and early spring months.

What has been your plan to continue?  

Since the restrictions were eased, we have allowed members to return to work on the railway if they so wish, however they must follow social distancing measures. 

It has been a challenging time, but with great resolve, our members have started essential maintenance tasks so that when we do eventually re-open to the public, we should be ready to go.

How have things changed over the last few months?  

It’s been tough – normally we would be planning events and publicity etc for the course of the year, and due to the lockdown measures, this hasn’t taken place. 

A lot of our members are used to coming out  each weekend to escape the “9 to 5” and to either learn some new skills or crack on with restoring Swindon’s heritage, however it’s all ground to a halt and some have found it difficult without that escape. 

What has been the most challenging aspect of all of this? 

Trying to keep our head above water financially.  Without running any trains or events, we do not have any income. Granted, our overheads are not as high as they normally would be. However costs such as electricity, water, cleaning materials and relevant PPE are still something that must be bought and paid for.  We have had some success with fundraising which has helped a huge amount. But we’re not out of the woods yet!

What has been the most positive aspect? 

The positive response from the public – we’re enamoured by the generosity of them and how they support out cause, even in these trying times. 

Has it made you consider how you feel about other businesses/suppliers/customers/clients for good or otherwise? 

Most of our suppliers are local businesses and where possible we source our coal, oils, fuels, and other materials within the UK. We have a close relationship with a local electrical wholesaler whom we’ve used for supplying materials across our site. 

How important is the phrase 'buy local, supply local' to you? 

It’s very important – our income solely based on local people visiting us week in week out, our big events attract a wider audience, but without the people of Wiltshire we wouldn’t be able to survive. Thank you!

What are your top tips at this time? 

1. Think of new ways of delivering your product or service.

2. Stay positive.

3. Never give up.

Your parting thoughts? 

When we re-open, we’d love to invite everyone across Wiltshire to join us for our first train service of the year.

For more information visit www.swindon-cricklade-railway.org

Fiona Scott Media Consultancy Swindon

Scott Media

Scott Media is run by a UK-based journalist with more than 20 years' experience in the media - print, radio and television.

6 Gold View, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN5 8GZ

Fiona Scott Media Consultancy
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