Michael Abbott - Volunteering at Midsomer Norton

Mike Abbott
Matt Harris

Why did he become a volunteer:

I wanted to be part of a railway that was still growing and becoming bigger and better. Most railways are at their full capacity but Midsomer Norton has still got a long way to go, with the possibility to extend to Chilcompton and Radstock plus lots of other exciting projects. I’ve always been interested in the S&D and I thought my skills and experience would be better appreciated and suited at Midsomer as it grows bigger. I was very interested in railway operations, especially heritage, and I now have managed to work my way up to becoming the current operations manager at the railway.

What does he enjoy best

I always enjoy working with other keen volunteers with the running of the railway. My favourite job, and dream come true, is driving the trains whether it is steam or diesel. I really enjoy my role as operations manager ensuring the railway runs safely to all the correct safety guidelines and procedures. There's always a lot going on so there's plenty to keep me busy, including making sure all our safety-critical staff remain competent. This does involve a fair bit of office work but I still enjoy it.

What training did he get?

When I started I had my volunteer induction which involved the normal form signing and tour of the railway. Because I wanted to work on the locos I had to do my personal track safety exam before doing any volunteering. I then had to do the railways' rules exam and undertook trainee turns and worked my way up over a few years. All the training and info was provided and still is provided now. You will be expected to undertake exams but these can be done in your own time at the railway and your own needs/requirements will be met.

What's it like being a volunteer at MSN?

It’s always a pleasure to volunteer at MSN working with a great bunch of friendly like-minded railway enthusiasts and very experienced craftsmen and even ex-railway men. We are all volunteers and we do this because we enjoy it, it's never a chore!

Why should other young members join?

The railway is only getting bigger and better and as we want to run more passenger trains we will need more safety-critical staff. You will be part of the continuing history of this iconic railway ensuring it remains open to the public for many more years to come.

Younger volunteers are the lifeblood of heritage railways such as this and you are needed now more than ever! You will always be welcome no matter what job you wish to do.