The first in a series of interviews with our working volunteers - Matthew Harris.
Working volunteers are the lifeblood of heritage railways and without them we would not be able to operate trains or undertake the dozens of jobs necessary to operate a heritage railway. This is the first in a series of interviews with our working volunteers.
Interview with a Volunteer - Matthew Harris
What made you volunteer at Midsomer Norton?
I became a volunteer because the railways have been apart of my family for many years as my great-grandfather worked for the LMS in London. As a young boy, I remember many times seeing the steam trains at Bitton station and the HSTs at Bristol temple meads in the 1990's, so you could say I was hooked straight away then as a teenager I started to volunteer on heritage railways which then lead me to join the Somerset and Dorset railway which I have loved every second so far.
What do you enjoy best about being a volunteer?
The best thing I enjoy about volunteering at the S&D is there is always something to do and get involved with, since joining the railway and being apart of the loco department there's a lot of exciting stuff happening. Most importantly which makes this Railway very unique is everyone treats you like you're apart of one big family, even if you're doing sometimes the not so glamorous jobs you've always got a smile on your face knowing you're making a big difference.
What training did you receive when you joined?
The training I received when I joined was a very insightful introduction to the railway, the route, history, facilities, personal track safety, and training on my roles within the loco department.
What's it like being a volunteer at Midsomer Norton?
The key thing about being a volunteer at the S&D is you'll always be valued whatever you do at the railway, being that we are still a small railway currently it's always exciting being a part of projects that will allow the railway to grow bigger. Whether that's extending the line further to Radstock or Chilcompton, upgrading the facilities at Midsomer Norton, building the new Somervale siding, or anything new that might unfold in the future. The main thing is you'll always be excited, engaged, and invested in what you do as a volunteer at the railway.
Why do you think other young members should join?
The benefits of joining as a volunteer are vast but key ones like getting outdoors, good exercise, expanding your skills and even if you have no previous background on the railways that's never an issue as training will always be provided and even within any department on the railway you'll be in great hands.