Our Heart of Gold Awards celebrate those in the rail industry who have made a real difference in their workplace or community. The nominations and voting are by the everyday people who work in rail – giving them the opportunity to thank the colleagues they appreciate, value and who inspire them. This year, the Awards have five categories: Rising Star, Lifetime Achievement, Team, Wellbeing Champion and the Rail Hero Award.
We are delighted to announce the shortlist for our Heart of Gold Awards. This year we were flooded with many inspiring and heart-warming stories, receiving over 90 nominations. Voting is open from 18th October to 31st October.
Rising Star Shortlist
Sponsored by Furrer + Frey
The Rising Star Award is for someone who has made a big impact in a short space of time. This person is new to the Railway Family but has already displayed incredible acts of kindness and is inspiring others to do the same.
Degree Apprentice – AtkinsRéalis
Lucy’s ability to make a positive impact on all tasks she has been involved in has been widely acknowledged. Her willingness to listen and to proactively apply her learnings is invaluable to her colleagues, who have entrusted her with additional responsibilities as her skill set continues to develop. Lucy consistently displays respect towards others which has enabled her to build strong relationships within the team, creating an environment that encourages creativity and a safe space for challenging assumptions and welcoming new ideas. Lucy also secured the position of Social Value Co-Lead for the Project and Programme Services division at AtkinsRéalis (formerly Faithful+Gould). She was a natural choice for this position due to her organisational skills and ability to drive change and measure the impact of the change. She regularly delivers presentations informing colleagues of the importance of Social Value and how best they can all contribute through volunteering, joining programmes, or even by changing aspects of their personal lives. Lucy serves as an inspiration to her colleagues and is motivated to continue developing her skillset throughout her apprenticeship.
Station Team Leader – GTR
Jack has excelled in his job at GTR, joining the team four years ago. His knowledge of the way the trains operate has benefitted not just passengers, but also other staff at Bedford Station. When Jack is on shift there is always information available, and any problems that arise, Jack is always visible and on hand to help. He has excellent customer service and is always there to help passengers with disabilities or extra needs, going above and beyond to ensure that travelling is a pleasant experience and making customers as comfortable as possible. Jack takes great pride in his work, is always smiling and it is clear to everyone that he loves his job.
Employee Engagement Manager – Merseyrail
Hannah’s nomination could be dismissed as her ‘doing her job’, however she goes above and beyond in everything she does. In the last year she has worked to engage staff around major local events including Eurovision 2023 in Liverpool and the King’s Coronation. She has promoted and gained significant participation in events from menopause awareness, prostate cancer screening, and diabetes/cholesterol testing. She runs wellbeing roadshows in depots, offices, and stations, and has created a buzz with elements of surprise and delight treats for events like Valentines Day. Hannah always aspires to deliver at a standard of excellence and works to ensure that her colleagues are supported and know they are cared for. She’s a Wellbeing Champion because of the way she cares for the team, but also recognising the wellbeing of individuals and working to support, care and signpost them to ways to thrive.
Lifetime Achievement Shortlist
The Lifetime Achievement Award is for someone who has demonstrated their Heart of Gold throughout their career in rail. This person may be a mentor to others, a supportive figure, or even just a friendly face.
Station Retailer – Merseyrail
Ronnie has been in rail for 46 years and has worked tirelessly to support his colleagues, whilst also giving a lot of his time in his roles as an RBF Ambassador and Union Rep. Ronnie never switches his phone off, and always tells colleagues to call anytime if they need someone to talk to. He is always at the end of the phone with a sympathetic ear and helpful advice day and night. The support he gives colleagues is selfless and he always goes above and beyond. Ronnie has even visited colleagues in hospitals, hospices and at home, offering support to their families too. Ronnie was and still is passionate about helping his Railway Family friends and colleagues and is much loved by all.
Asset Protection Coordinator – Network Rail
Debra has worked for Network Rail High Speed for 20 years and was one of the first ever Customer Service Assistants at Ebbsfleet before the station even opened. Debra is always helping others, whether that be through peer relationships or volunteering, and she never expects a thank you or recognition. Debra organises a huge amount of volunteering opportunities for the whole of NRHS, from BTP to smaller charities who could use a helping hand. Debra collects bras across various working locations for ‘Against Breast Cancer’. The unwanted or unloved bras help to raise vital funds for pioneering breast cancer research. Debra supports many people throughout our business with regular phone conversations, out of work meetings for walks and a chat and was a pillar of support to lots of people during COVID. She is also hugely passionate about educating young people about the dangers of the railway and has set up several school assembly sessions to educate children.
Owner and Chairman of MTMS Ltd and Prentico Group
Malcolm Prentice has been a leader, mentor, and generous benefactor in the rail industry for over 20 years. With his heart-warming, gentle approach, patience and engaging good humour, he has shown limitless, and often unseen, benevolence and generosity. Caring for the poorest in society across big rail hotspots of the Midlands, he has helped countless young people in their development. With a focus on those in care, Malcolm has arranged Christmas lunches for those who are released from care and are finding life difficult. Recently he established hardship funds for cadets, and for decades he has supported hundreds of recently discharged veterans, many of whom work in the rail industry now. For over 40 years he has been quietly providing a springboard for the least fortunate in society whilst mentoring those new into business and providing professional guidance that has led many to generate success.
Rail Hero Shortlist
Sponsored by Freightliner
The Rail Hero Award recognises an unsung hero who has made a significant impact to the lives of their colleagues or their community. They may have overcome a personal challenge, gone the extra mile to support a colleague, or even saved a life.
Operations Support Manager – Freightliner
Earlier this year, Ralph took quick action to support a colleague who critically ill. His colleague Keenan came to work feeling unwell and looked out of sorts and was advised by the Shift Manager to go home. As Keenan was leaving site, Ralph arrived to commence his duties, and noticed Keenan appeared to be walking unsteadily. Concerned for Keenan’s safety, Ralph stopped his vehicle and rushed towards Keenan and was aware that he was very bright red in the face, and his lips were of a slightly blue colour. Ralph told Keenan that he would drive him to the hospital. However, at this point Keenan collapsed in a backward motion and landed on his back and banged his head on the ground. He then started frothing at his mouth, began to choke and appeared to lose consciousness. Ralph’s immediate thoughts were to clear his airways and perform CPR. Ralph called 999 and had his phone on loudspeaker as instructed. Realising that Keenan had reached a point where he was in such a poor state, he used the defibrillator before putting Keenan into the recovery position, made him comfortable with some coats and did his best to reassure him and keep him calm. He then stayed with Keenan until the ambulance arrived and the paramedics attended to him before taking him to hospital. Fortunately, Keenan has made a full recovery and was able to return home to his wife and one year old son. It was thanks to Ralph’s quick actions, calm response and professional manner that prevented Keenan’s situation from becoming more critical.
Platform Team Leader – Avanti West Coast
Laura has been an absolute inspiration to her colleagues, customers, and the wider community of Runcorn. She is a mentor to other staff at the station, all of whom at some point have turned to her for advice or support. Laura suggested turning the waiting room at Runcorn station in a community space, contacting like-minded individuals from various charities and support groups. Runcorn station now holds weekly Age UK sessions, drop-in mental health first aid, ukelele group sessions and even a regular slot from a member of Halton Council offering free drop-in advice. Laura has made more than one intervention on someone experiencing a mental health crisis over the last couple of years, including a woman who was intending to jump from the nearby Runcorn Bridge. Laura pulled to the side of the road to talk to her. The woman was suicidal but through her empathy and listening skills Laura managed to keep the woman talking and distracted from her intent. Laura’s compassion and quick thinking led to the woman deciding not to jump and instead getting the help she needed.
Regional Community and Sustainability Manager – Northern Trains
Richard’s projects include outreach work with communities in areas with a low socioeconomic status, to demonstrate how trains can connect them to employment and education opportunities, and working with organisations who aim to tackle unemployment, social isolation, crime, and to encourage a social conscience. Richard visits schools regularly to educate young people about rail safety and the dangers of trespassing on the railway and he with the schools regularly contributes to events such as Leeds Rail Safety Week. He is also and ambassador for the railway’s ‘Unwanted Sexual Behaviour’ campaign and has recently worked with young people in the Bradford region to create an information video about this topic which will be shared amongst the young people’s peers. Richard also played a key role in aligning industry support for Baby Week, an annual celebration focusing attention on the importance of women’s health and the best start for all babies. In his community work, Richard embodies the Northern ethos ‘to make a positive impact for the North, in all we do and for all we serve.’
Wellbeing Champion Shortlist
Sponsored by Health Shield
The Wellbeing Champion Award is for someone who always goes above and beyond to improve the wellbeing of those around them. They act as a listening ear for colleagues and are dedicated to uplifting the mental and physical health and wellbeing of others.
Health and Wellbeing Partner – Avanti West Coast
As Health and Wellbeing Partner, Kelly goes above and beyond to support colleagues across Avanti West Coast, and in some circumstances family members when intervention is required. Colleagues know they can confide in Kelly; she never judges but simply provides a safe space, listens, and then signposts them to ensure they receive the appropriate support, always checking in to make sure they are OK. Kelly has been instrumental in organising health and wellbeing days up and down the network for many years. She’s also a great support with keeping her mental health champs on track and up to date. Kelly is kind-hearted, hardworking, and anyone who reaches out to her always gets the best support.
Occupational Health Technician – Southwestern Railway
Sheree works tirelessly to spread awareness of the importance of wellbeing and mental health. She gives her time selflessly to charities to help other people benefit from her knowledge, expertise, and kindness. Sheree also delivers Defibrillator and CPR confidence training across the network at SWR. She is always booked up for these sessions and is very passionate for this confidence training to be available to any member of staff that needs it; so far over 500 colleagues have received this support. Sheree is incredibly caring and generous, always supports her colleagues and is on hand anytime of the day to support and listen.
Head of Health UK & Ireland – Alstom
Claire has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of Alstom’s employees, making a profound impact on their workplace culture. Claire has been a tireless advocate for mental health awareness within Alstom, creating a feeling of inclusiveness across the business. She has introduced initiatives such as mindfulness sessions, menopause groups and mental health workshops, is responsible for the adoption of a confidential employee support network and is a key member of the Voices of Disability group. Claire’s level of compassion and support for colleagues’ wellbeing goes far beyond that of her profession. She is a great listener, offering instant support for employees in distress, and challenges the business to the highest level to ensure the culture of the business supports all employees’ abilities.
The Team Award is for an amazing group of people who all work in the rail industry. They work together, support each other and achieve amazing things as a group while having a positive impact on their community.
Leamington Spa Ticket Office
In 2021, the Leamington Spa ticket office team lost a valued colleague and friend, Peter Wreford-Bush, to Covid. The impact of this loss was devasting to the team, as Peter was such an important character, having worked at the station for 18 years. During this time, the team took in Peter’s wife Angela, and helped her though her grieving, always there for a chat whenever she needed it. The team, made up of Joe Dibbins, Ross Shaw-Mellors, Dave Allen, Charlotte Lowndes, Lamin Mbenga, Simmie Mohammed and Nick Rees always commemorate Peter’s anniversaries by holding themed days in the office, such as Star Wars, as Peter was a big fan. On National Day of Reflection, they decorated the subway to the station platforms with photos of Pete and have also commissioned a bench with his name on in the ticket office entrance. The team supported with a naming ceremony when a Chiltern Locomotive was named after Peter in 2022.
Railway Family Facebook Group
The Railway Family Facebook group was set up by Kevin and Maria Campbell, both Southeastern employees, initially to show solidarity and come together as an industry following the Stonehaven derailment. The group, created for current and retired rail workers, has evolved into a thriving nationwide community for the Railway Family, regardless of experience or role. There are currently over 15,000 members of the group and it is monitored by a dedicated admin team. The group is a community where people can share ideas, views, experiences and show solidarity and comradery. It is also a lifeline to some who may be feeling isolated or lonely.
Martin House Fundraising Team
This team work tirelessly and in their own time to raise funds in support of Martin House Childrens’ Hospice. Made up of colleagues from DB Cargo and Network Rail, the group of fundraisers have raised over £250k for the charity, which provides a year of bereavement services, a year of support groups and 300 home visits. The fundraising team, consisting of David Jenkinson, Quentin Hedderly, Richard Corser, Ross Taylor, Andrew Denton, Jonathan Lawton, Mark Bridel, Jerry Dickinson and Kevin Adlam, work in their own time to plan and operate charitable charter services all over Great Britain. They work together as a rail industry team to make sure every service is delivered and as much money is raised as possible for such a fantastic cause.