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We did it! With your support, we've hit the £1 million jackpot!

The Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust has met the £1 million fundraising challenge set by the Heritage Lottery Fund. HLF pledged to match every pound donated to our endowment Future Fund, to reach a total of £1 million.

The offer was only open until the end of June, but well over a month ahead of the deadline, we received the final and much-anticipated donation that takes the amount raised to the £1million mark. 

A £400 cheque from SVR supporter Richard Hill tipped the scales; after Gift Aid and HLF match funding, Richard’s donation was boosted to £1,000 for the appeal. Richard, who lives in Bewdley, Worcestershire, has been a volunteer and fundraiser at the SVR for 24 years. He says the long-term aim of the appeal attracted his interest:

“I’m very happy that my money, along with the other donations, is going to be invested in the Charitable Trust’s endowment Future Fund. It will generate income to support all kinds of restoration projects. I see this as helping to secure a viable future for the Railway, and I like the forward thinking behind it. I really believe that since it was established in 2012, the SVR Charitable Trust has been transforming fundraising on the Railway.”

Re-acting to the achievement, Chairman Hugh McQuade says:

“We are delighted with this achievement, and have been inspired by the passion and generosity of our supporters. Thanks to the opportunity HLF has given us, we’ve kick-started our endowment Future Fund. With the first £1 million in place, we’re now in a position to make a real commitment to the future of the Railway, to help fund the essential maintenance and restoration work on its rolling stock and infrastructure in the years to come.”

There have been thousands of donations to the appeal since it began in 2014. Some people signed up to give a regular amount on a monthly basis, others chose more unusual ways; one group of friends handed over the remains of their beer kitty after a day out on the Railway, and another supporter raised money by making and selling a valuable model locomotive.

Although the first £1 million is now secured, as Hugh McQuade explains, that’s only the beginning:

“Our ultimate goal is to raise £10 million for the endowment Future Fund, as we believe that would produce enough income to alleviate worries over the Railway’s future. Although the HLF match funding has now reached its limit, we can still claim 25% extra Gift Aid on donations, and I encourage people to continue to donate to the SVR’s future wellbeing.”  

Thank you to everyone who donated to our £1 million appeal

John Leftwich, Trustee and Supporter, talks about why he is proud to be involved with the SVR Charitable Trust 

Fifty years ago, it would have been easy to let the Severn Valley Railway slip quietly away into obscurity. Like so many other picturesque lines, the tracks would have been torn up, bridges left to collapse and cuttings completely overgrown. An important piece of our industrial heritage would have been lost forever.

Thanks to the spirited vision of the early preservationists, quite the opposite has happened and the Railway now is as picturesque and thriving as it ever was. Remarkably, more passengers are now carried on the Railway than in its heyday as an operational line.

The Severn Valley Railway means different things to different people. For elderly visitors, a trip down memory lane. For families and younger travellers, an involving educational experience in how things were. For many volunteers, they appreciate the worthwhile activities and interest that the Railway brings into their daily lives. Local businesses value the contribution that the Railway makes to the economy and employment in the area.

They all share one thing in common: the enjoyment that is to be had by being surrounded by the evocative sights, smells and sounds of a bustling heritage railway. The smiles on the faces of everyone down the line are testament to the fun of simply riding on a train.

The cost of the day-to-day running of the Severn Valley Railway is covered thanks to the Railway’s 1,300 volunteers and a small group of paid staff who help generate the daily income from passenger fares, the shops and catering outlets.

However, to maintain the ageing infrastructure and rolling stock the Railway now needs to raise money. To ensure it can continue to provide children, adults and enthusiasts with an authentic experience of the Golden Age of travel, the Trustees and I are committed to securing the funding needed for this important programme. Ultimately the ambition is to have the Severn Valley Railway recognised as the leading Heritage Railway in the UK.

I believe that we would not be doing justice to the pioneers who have brought the Railway this far, if we did not keep this pioneering spirit alive and continue their work for the benefit of future generations.

That is why I am personally delighted to be contributing my own time and money to the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust. I sincerely hope that you feel the same.
Formerly The SVR Rolling Stock Trust, the Charitable Trust was formed in May 2012 in recognition of the increasing demands of the railway and a need to broaden the scope of our activity. Originally caring exclusively for the railway’s vehicles, the remit was expanded to cover the 150 year old infrastructure, buildings and other developments.

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