Christina Burgess from the Friends of Goostrey Station writes …
We can’t quite believe it! On 6th October, at a ceremony held at Manchester Central Convention Centre and attended by over 430 guests, Friends of Goostrey Station was chosen from over 1000 station adoption groups across the country to be presented with an award for their Outstanding Contribution to Community Rail.
We also won the trophy for the Most Enhanced Railway Space, following the renovation and conversion of the Victorian station building into Goostrey Art Studio. And we came second in the competition for a photo to capture the essence of Community Rail; our picture was of FOGS members celebrating a seventh win in the Cheshire Best Kept Station competition. So FOGS took home two glass trophies, two cheques and three certificates!
The FOGS members who attended the event were amused to overhear someone asking ‘where is this place called Goostrey?’.
When FOGS was formed in 2012 the station building at Goostrey was unmanned and dilapidated. A small group of volunteers gradually improved the overall station environment but they were determined to renovate the building and bring it back into community use. In 2019, working with Network Rail, the Rail Heritage Trust and other partners, the building was restored and altered to create two large rooms which proved ideal for local professional artist Debbie Goldsmith to use as a studio.
The station has become a real creative hub, with Debbie using the building as a studio to paint, create wool rugs and prepare workshop materials. The workshops are designed to promote community cohesion and have been well-received by local schools and youth groups. A recent successful application to the National Lottery will partially fund the improvement of the facilities by installing a kitchen and toilets. This will ensure that more ambitious projects can be undertaken.
Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, said: “We are continually impressed by the breadth of the work delivered by the Friends of Goostrey Station, and their obvious commitment to engaging widely with their community and delivering positive change. Their work developing Goostrey Art Studio is a fantastic example of a historic railway building being lovingly restored and converted into a creative community hub. The group’s innovative endeavours to enhance the local environment for people and wildlife is particularly inspirational. We’re delighted that they have been working enthusiastically with us to share their experience on enhancing biodiversity with other community rail partnerships across Britain. We congratulate them on their achievements and this worthy win.”
Two FOGS members, Debbie Goldsmith and Christina Burgess, attended the award ceremony, but this was a real team effort. Many local people have worked hard over the last 10 years to improve our village station. The current Chair, Dave Roberts, and vice chair and treasurer, Craig Sidebotham, were instrumental in negotiating Debbie’s tenancy; and now they’re working hard to get toilet and washing facilities installed. In addition, Craig promotes biodiversity and GIS mapping around the station and this was significant in securing the outstanding contribution award.