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Gillingham station bloom
Gillingham’s silver award.

Gillingham railway station has picked up a silver award in a new ‘Stations in Bloom’ contest organised throughout the south west.

Judges commended the volunteers at the station for its ‘inspiring planting schemes celebrating Gillingham’s rich agricultural heritage’.

It is believed the judges were especially impressed with the ‘wonderful’ old milk churns at the station.

During the summer months in a series of regional station tours across Dorset, Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire and Hampshire, teams visited more than 30 fabulous stations. On hand to welcome them were the station adopters, volunteers and railway staff who give their time generously to enhancing stations for the benefit of rail users and visitors.

The teams say they were impressed by the breadth and range of volunteering opportunities taking place at the stations ranging from planters and gardens, wildlife areas, friendship benches, owl boxes, free shops, heritage centres, baby clothes swap shop and food banks.

Giving regional prominence to the value of volunteering, and the unique contributions and enhancements made by volunteers and railway staff, was the central focus of the ‘Stations in Bloom’ campaign and awards ceremony.

Each station volunteer group received a unique award presented by Claire Mann, managing director of South Western Railway and a specially curated calendar full of images of the summer.

The awards were handed out at a ceremony hosted and organised by Blackmore Vale Line Community Rail Partnership and sponsored by The Gardens Group and South West Coaches. More than 100 station volunteers from across the South Western Railway and Great Western Railway region gathered in a specially erected event marquee at Castle Gardens in Sherborne. Guests came from all over the region.

Host of the event Derek Beer, Chairman of the Blackmore Vale Line, said: ‘What a great honour and a privilege to share an occasion with such dedicated and talented people. The memories that I will take away from visiting so many of the groups is the diversity they bring to each of their projects to fit in with the needs, not just of their stations, but the wider communities too.

‘Everyone at the event I feel benefited, not only from a lovely cream tea, a sense of occasion, and most of all learning from hearing about each other’s projects.’

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