The ACoRP awards were held last year in Swindon Steam Railway Museum. Sandown Station Pie and Larder Cafe won third place for best station retail outlet and Lymington Brockenhurst won second place for the rail trail ‘showing the way’…….
These were the entries;
Best Station/Train Retail Outlet
The CRP has spent considerable time and effort on securing money for the refurbishment of Sandown Station and has longed to see a tenant occupying the space, who would be keen to work with the CRP to develop the cafe to be a community hub. With the station being so firmly in the heart of a varied and diverse community, with no retail outlets close by, the CRP and its stakeholders felt that something that provided a real service to the community would be well placed in a station whose winter footfall is considerably lighter to that of the summer.
Therefore when Sian Kirk made an expression of interest to SWT for the cafe to be developed with the ethos being that of a real community hub, the CRP were delighted. Sian’s considerable experience really leant itself to this project growing to be a success with her 20 years in post compulsory education, business development, outreach and community development, tutorial and personal development learner and inclusion and student voice.
Refurbishing the cafe was just the start to make it a warm, welcoming modern place to come and have a quick coffee or eat one of the many healthy menu options on offer, whilst meeting friends or using the train.
The next step was to think of ways to involve the community in opportunities from ‘grow cook eat’ with vegetable boxes being built as part of the ‘Incredible Edible’ within the Medina Housing Group. This will not only supply the station’s kitchen at Sandown but Brading Station too for their occasional ‘Railwayman lunches menu’ the surplus of vegetables grown then being offered in a ‘help yourselves’ box at both stations.
Organisations and carers providing respite care Sian has worked with in the past have been contacted to encourage them to access community space for care in the community and ‘Al’ who is blind, is someone who works on his pottery and art and craft skills on a regular basis with his carer of 7 years at the station, meeting new people and enjoying coffee and then lunch.
All in all, the cafe ‘The Larder and Pie House’ is a vibrant, thriving healthy cafe, which having just started, is already showing promise of building on the skills and service already provided to be a worthwhile support in the community.
Services to be provided in the summer are;
- Outreach support for young people through ‘pound for a potato’. This will be a cheap hot meal and a cup of soup as a proactive programme for youngsters who often do not eat and are out, particularly on a Friday evening drinking.
- Book swap club
- Phase three projects to develop a learning area in the Shanklin end of the station.
- NHS smoking cessation and drugs and alcohol monthly support
It was then with great pleasure to accept for Sian Kirk an award for all her hard work, which we were able to later present to her and her daughter by Andy Naylor, Head of Customer Service of SWT and Island Line Trains at the Station.
Community Art Schemes
It has been a long term problem at the station to direct first time visitors from the station to the town, with no obvious sign pots and a station now closed in the afternoon. There is a quick route to the town which is along the quay and involves a steep hill on cobbles, no good for wheel chairs, restricted mobility or parents with pushchairs.
Funding was sourced and secured by the LB CRP’s Rail Development Officer to commission an artist to work with pupils from Lymington Junior School, their immediate and extended families and a local engineering firm to create an ambitious ‘Rail Trail’. This was to be in the form of bronze pavers, leading people along the most direct and accessible route to the town, all with different themes and promoting healthy activities in the area.
To start this project the CRP ran an assembly at the school to ask for young volunteers interested in working on the project. This included 3 brief presentations; one from the RDO to talk about the existing route and to get them to think about why its restrictive; one from the artist to explain the help she needed from the pupils and their families for workshops and the last from a senior engineer from the local firm who would be smelting the bronze in to shapes (this was well received as there were lots of pictures of fire and furnaces)
After the presentation the RDO introduced a competition called ‘Lymington, my Town’ which called for entries of pictures showing the areas healthy activities. Eight winners were to be picked and their pictures used on two map boards, one at the station and one outside St Thomas’ Church at the top of the town and at the end of the trail. The competition had over 80 entries which made picking the winning eight a challenge. There was then another assembly, just before the workshops started, to remind the children of the project, present certificates to all entrants and the eight winners with art packs, put together by the RDO.
This part completed it was time to see how many of the children had managed to encourage their families to get involved in the last day, weeklong workshops. From the original figure of 30 families who expressed an interest at the start of the project through a letter home, we actually had 355 parents, siblings and grandparents attend, which meant securing two additional artists to help with the ratios! This was because of the superb dedication the artist gave with all the extra voluntary support providing an attention to detail that was over and above, taking this project from good to extra ordinary.
From concept to design the young people looked at 3D shapes as elements of the healthy activities, finally combining their ideas in to clay ‘plates’, which the artist took away to her studio to work on as plaster of Paris prototypes needed by the engineering firm to make the silicon moulds for the bronzes.
In the meantime the pupils were asked to collect aluminium cans, collected in a can bin leant to the school from Brockenhurst College. The cans were to be used, smelted down, as testing material shapes in the moulds, which then could be used as prototypes for Hampshire County Council Highways department to make sure the designs complied with the slip, trip and fall regulations that needed to be in place before installing the pavers. The children collected thousands of cans which enabled the successful signing off the safety aspect of the project and as by way of appreciation the engineering firm presented the school with two large plaques to commemorate the project.
At the same time as all of the art at the school, the CRP had artist Alan Rowe who has worked on both CRP maps in the past, produce a map of Lymington for the two map boards. The town was to show community organisations and service providers, with the trail marked in yellow. This section of the map was then replicated into a DL leaflet, showing the route and explaining the project, which is displayed at the station and in shops and community centres.
Part of the projects complete success was down to the artist who worked tirelessly, giving many more hours on this project than the CRP could ever pay, understanding completely its community value. The project attracted thousands of pounds worth of funding for additional works in the town to support this project including a crossing point on Gosport Street with tactile paving and posts, finger arms for existing street furniture pointing the way to the station, new and repaired paving and road works and the installation of the pavers themselves. The whole project started at £35,000 but with increased order of works and additional financial support the whole project eventually came to £93,000 and has been a much needed improvement for the station and the town.
Other success measures within the project were the incredible support from town with both community involvement and additional financial support from Chamber of Commerce, the Town Council, New Forest District Council and local newspapers and radio who have written/spoken about the town’s increased civic pride for a project that certainly the young people can be proud of being involved in for many years to come.