Walkers raise nearly £6,000 for Bluebell Railway

Walkers taking part in a Virtual Track Trek have raised nearly £6,000 for the Bluebell Railway.

The railway normally holds a sponsored walk each year with supporters walking alongside the train tracks but cancelled this year’s planned event because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Stephen Bigg, Paul Lelew, and Vernon Blackburn get ready to take part in the Bluebell Railway Virtual Track Trek. Picture: Flying Movies.

Instead it asked people to walk a distance of 4.5 miles, which is the length of the track between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes stations on the heritage line.

People took part on Saturday in different locations including on disused railway lines, between existing main line railway stations, in their gardens, carparks or seafronts.

The nearest to the actual Track Trek was achieved by Vernon Blackburn, Chairman of the Bluebell Railway Trust; Steve Bigg, Chairman of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society, and Paul Lelew the Commercial and Marketing Director of the Bluebell Railway PLC.

Striding out to raise funds for the Bluebell Railway are Paul Lelew, Stephen Bigg, and Vernon Blackburn. Picture: Flying Movies.

They achieved 4.8 miles walking from Horsted Keynes Railway Station over Leamland Bridge then walking parallel to the track for about half a mile to the Horsted House foot crossing and returning to Horsted Keynes Station.

The Virtual Track Trek was the brainchild of Bluebell member Deborah Carver who walked between various railway stations including Crawley and Three Bridges.

So far nearly £6,000 has been raised towards the Bluebell Railway Emergency Appeal which is being used to help with the costs of reopening the railway which has been closed since March.

The Virtual Track Trek co-ordinator Roger Kelly and his fiancée Maureen, with a combined age of 150, walked their 4.5 miles in rain and force six winds and raised more than £1,400.

A birds-eye view of the Bluebell Railway. Picture: Flying Movies.

The Mayor of East Grinstead, Danny Favor joined in, with his wife Maribel, walking around the council offices in East Grinstead.

The Bluebell Railway says it is keeping the Virtual Track Trek going for anyone who wishes to donate or wants to take part in their own sponsored walk of 4.5 miles. Details are here.

The railway is planning on reopening on Friday, August 7, to mark 60 years of operating as a heritage line.

• Contact details for the Bluebell Railway can be found 24/7 in our Uckfield Directory. Look for the name or search in categories for Heritage Railways, or Visitor Attractions.

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