Hear first hand from our young volunteers Joe and Jack about why they volunteer at Bodmin Railway.
Here at Bodmin Railway you can join our volunteer workforce as young as fourteen! We took the time to speak to both Joe and Jack last week to find out some more about our young volunteers and how they may be able to inspire other young railway enthusiasts or those looking to volunteer. With a multitude of skills to gain and confidence to grow in the workplace environment, we have a range of volunteer roles that anyone over the age of 14 can help out with.
Jack House (left in photo), age 15, from St. Austell, has been volunteering with us for just over a year and began last summer. Jack moved to Cornwall in 2021 and “realised he was only half an hour away from a steam railway, so decided to take a look”. His grandpa’s passion for steam engines means Jack has grown up with railway knowledge and appreciation. You can usually find Jack at Bodmin Railway on a Sunday, volunteering as a TTI (Travelling Ticket Inspector), working alongside the Guard on the train. This is Jack’s favourite role, as it allows him to “meet lots of new people”, as well as “help people enjoy the railway” as much as he does.
When Jack turns 16, he hopes to start his Guard training (under supervision and with the correct approval), which he is very excited about. He feels his volunteering at the railway is a great first step to completing his ambition of being a mainline driver, and over the first year he has “learned lots of teamwork skills and boosted his confidence” when talking to the public. Jack’s advice to any young people thinking about volunteering is to “just follow your dreams”.
Joe Birchall (right in photo) travels from Truro to volunteer during the school holidays. Much like Jack’s, Joe’s interest in railways started early in his life, with his great-great-grandfather being a train driver on the LMS. Joe came to Bodmin Railway last Christmas to complete his volunteering for his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh; he loved it so much that he has decided to continue. You can usually find Joe shadowing the guard or the TTI on the train, learning about how to carry out guard duties, “changing points, talking to customers, and gaining experience in what to do for the train to move safely”. In the future, Joe hopes to progress his skills so he can pass out as a guard, and eventually he hopes to be a diesel driver.
It is clear Joe has quickly learned a lot about effectively dealing with the public and customers; he notes you must “always say good morning, and if they are unhappy with the service, try to work as hard as possible to make them the number one priority”. Living by a mainline railway, Joe waves to the CrossCountry ‘Voyager’ every day and aspires to be a driver of this train himself one day. His advice for new, young volunteers starting at Bodmin Railway is to “give everything a go and don’t decide your favourite job early on; be friendly to everybody (staff and passengers); and be prepared to do any job”.
Both Joe and Jack are great assets and ‘young blood’ to the railway. We treasure and value our young volunteers very much, as we know they will be the torch carriers in keeping our heritage railway alive and steaming. It is also lovely to see the guidance and knowledge passed down by the older volunteers, where steam trains had a strong presence in their generation. Although both Jack and Joe had interests in trains and railways prior to joining, we welcome all to volunteer. There are many sectors of the railway to gain experience in, which don’t include travelling on the train: front of house in our booking office, hospitality, engineering, carpentry, and more!
Read all about the jobs you can volunteer for, HERE
If you are interested, get in touch via ‘[email protected]’ or pop by the head office at Bodmin General Station, to ask for a volunteer application form.