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Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways shortlisted for two prestigious awards

The Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways have been shortlisted for two prestigious awards at the upcoming HRA (Heritage Railway Association) 2024 Annual Awards.

New double Fairlie locomotive ‘James Spooner’ has been shortlisted for the Coiley Award for Steam Locomotive Engineering and marketing lead, Osian Hughes has been shortlisted for the HRA Award for Rising Stars.

The Coiley Award is awarded to a HRA member organisation which has completed an outstanding engineering project in the overhaul, restoration or preservation of a steam locomotive or self-propelled vehicle.

The Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway’s newest double Fairlie, ‘James Spooner’ is the fifth new build loco built by Boston Lodge works since 1979. It was officially launched on October 20 last year in a ceremony staged at Blaenau Ffestiniog station.

The start of work on the new double Fairlie was announced in early 2016. The outstanding efforts of both staff and volunteers at Boston Lodge workshops, along with significant financial contributions from supporters, have resulted in what is one of the most significant engineering achievements in the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways’ recent history.

The newest locomotive pays homage to the original James Spooner of 1872 and several Victorian-era features on the early double Fairlies have been incorporated in the design, including the iconic boiler-mounted bells, stovepipe chimneys, square sand boxes and an open cab.

Osian has also been shortlisted in the Rising Star category. Since joining the company in 2020, he has made a significant contribution to changing its business model with his positive attitude and problem solving ability.

He has worked hard to learn about the company and the world of railways, taking an active role in Great Little Trains of Wales (GLTW) and with the Wales on Rails project.

The project connects GLTW with the community rail partnerships in Wales to encourage leisure rail travel into and around the country.

A fluent Welsh speaker, he has worked with the Welsh Language Commission to create a Welsh language development plan for the company so that improvements can be monitored. He recently organised an exhibit of loco and carriages at the National Eisteddfod, manned largely by Welsh speaking staff and volunteers to highlight the importance of the language to the company.

The 2024 HRA Awards winners will be announced in Brighton on Saturday, February 10.

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