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Staff changes

Page updated on: 09/10/17 at 19:36

October 9th 2017

I am delighted to welcome Mr John Miller to my team as Kidderminster Booking Office Assistant Manager. John brings a wealth of experience as a retired Building Society manager and has already proven a very popular colleague to work with amongst the existing team.
I will be introducing John to colleagues we work with within the railway over the coming weeks.
Mike Jenkins Kidderminster Booking Office Manager

September 11th 2017

There have been a few changes at the Engine House this Summer to catch up on. Firstly, we have appointed Helen Russell as Education Officer, replacing Amanda Peplow to whom we wished a fond farewell when she left for Bewdley Museum earlier in the year.
As Education Officer, Helen reports directly to Nicky Vale, Visitor Centre Manager. Helen is wholly responsible for the education provision for SVR with Donna Sheridan, Education Co-ordinator and a small team of teachers, reporting to her.
Helen’s experience in education, together with her business qualifications, will enable her to develop and enhance the education offer we provide throughout the Railway, not just at Highley.
Helen is looking forward to Christmas Cracker in December and her focus is already on 2018. The Education Team’s aim is to develop the SVR offer, improving the packages, processes and communication channels with schools and other organisations, in order to give our young visitors complete enjoyment whilst ensuring their education with us is of excellent quality.
Rita Holland moved to the role of Engine House Catering Supervisor when Kieron Fowler left. Rita started her SVR employment at the Valley Suite, Kidderminster in March. As a qualified chef and with a strong managerial background, most recently in Notcutts Garden Centre, Solihull, we have already seen the introduction of homemade food with a strong emphasis on quality and freshness at Highley.
Finally, we said goodbye to Yvonne Coles, Retail Supervisor in June. Dawn Wingrove, who already worked in the Engine House Shop and Café, is now full time in the Shop and meeting and greeting customers on arrival.

Jane Preece HR Officer

August 16th 2017

There are a few new faces and voices in Visitor Services following the retirements of Ros Vale this month, Kate Kirk in July and Wendy Broadhurst earlier in the year, and with Martin Bannister seconded to the Operations Team.

Victoria Evans has joined SVR in the role of Membership Secretary, working alongside the 'regular team' of Lyn Gold (Supervisor), Karen Bromell, Sally Churchill and Selena Valler. Victoria has had a long association with the Railway having worked for Elise in Catering on board the Observation Saloons. In addition Jane Robinson, Dawn Adams and Emily Sparrow have joined in part-time, temporary roles.

Do come and say hello to the team if you are in Comberton Place.

Jane Preece HR Officer

April 26th 2017

The Wagon review group is delighted to announce that John Miller has joined the group as Treasurer "both to manage money raised and to assist the Group with the identification and implementation of practical fundraising initiatives in cooperation with other SVR organisations" - Richard Gunning.

There is a Wagon review group page on the SVR Wiki.

April 12th 2017

I am pleased to announce that Simon Hart has joined SVR in the role of Accountant and Company Secretary this week, replacing Matthew Harris who retired on Friday, 7 April. Following qualifying as a chartered accountant and moving into industry, Simon has many years’ experience in senior finance roles. He has worked specifically in privately owned SMEs, leading finance teams, reporting into the owners, playing a key role in the Senior Management Teams and working closely with, and influencing, commercial operations. In particular, he was Finance and Commercial Director during his 10 years at Arbil Limited in Lye. Arbil is a long-established lifting gear company manufacturing, distributing, servicing and hiring a comprehensive range of quality equipment including products relevant to the rail industry. Simon has also worked for Bass Brewers so is familiar with and the pub trade and hospitality business. Simon lives in Malvern with his wife Georgina. His passion and interests include any activity that includes meeting people, fresh air and exercise; he plays golf at Enville Golf Club, has a keen interest in cricket and walks/hikes whenever possible. He says that “this role is a unique opportunity to use my skillset in an exciting environment, utilising my relevant industry background and financial experience. I am particularly looking forward to working with all the dedicated and passionate individuals who make up the SVR providing an unforgettable visitor experience whilst preserving the unrivalled heritage.” With trains running daily over Easter, Simon will make the most of the first couple of weeks of his induction by visiting the stations and departments based along the Railway. I am sure everyone will join me in welcoming Simon to the SVR.

Nick Ralls General Manager

March 28th 2017

Please see the latest update below.

Leigh Weston Travelling Ticket Inspector Head of Department

At a meeting on Friday the 24th March, the Guarantee Board ratified the appointment of Leigh as Head of Department.

David Brattan Senior Duty Officer

At the same meeting the Guarantee Board ratified the appointment of David as Senior Duty Officer. 

Both post holders are now important members of the Operations Team and we look forward to their contribution to the development of operations on the SVR.

Nick Ralls General Manager

February 16th 2017 - Catering and bar management

Through 2016 we have managed Bridgnorth, Bewdley and Kidderminster bars and buffets under a different structure focusing on development of the areas, sales and communication.

At Kidderminster Gavin Chance has been overseeing the running and development of both the Valley Suite and King and Castle, which has proved to be very successful and I can now confirm that Gavin is now confirmed in the role as the joint King & Castle and Valley Suite Manager. This enables Gavin to run the Valley Suite and King & Castle as one team with improved standards, communication and staff productivity.

With Gavin focusing on one station Bridgnorth has seen Samantha Cottrell manage the buffet as well as her Managers role in the Railwaymans Arms. With large improvements in the buffet in the past 6 months in standards and results, along with closer communication between the buffet and the bar Samantha will be overseeing both areas through 2017, supporting the development and the ongoing work.

Bewdley Buffet has also been combined with the Highley Café and the merging of the two teams under Nicky Vale’s leadership has seen some fantastic improvements, enabling us to support this structure in 2017.

I am sure you will all join me in supporting and congratulating Gavin, Samantha and Nicky in their roles for the future..

Andrew Burton Heritage Support and Commercial Manager


February 3rd 2017

Matthew Harris, Accountant and Company Secretary, has informed me of his intention to retire in April this year and relocate to Austria with his wife Denise. Matthew has made our financial practices more secure, robust and has dramatically improved reporting. He has always offered good counsel, and challenging opinion when required. Whilst I am very happy for Matthew and Denise who will be starting a new adventure, he will be missed at the SVR. Recruitment for the Accountant and Company Secretary position will begin shortly.

Nick Ralls General Manager

February 2nd 2017

I am pleased to announce that, following interviews for the above positions the SVR Guarantee Company Board have appointed the following colleagues to Heads of Department roles with immediate effect:

  • Rob Starkey as Train Crew Manager

  • Peter Davenport as Signalling Manager

We also interviewed for the post of Station Master, Hampton Loade and I am very pleased to announce that Lee Whittaker has been appointed.

The interview panel included:

  • Nick Ralls (General Manager)

  • Steven Chapple (Operations Manager)

  • Jon Teuwen (Loco Crew Manager)

  • Alan Longdon (Stations Manager/Director)

  • Jane Preece (HR Officer)

I would like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to Mel Cook (Train Crew Manager), Russell Maiden (Signalling Manager) and Steve Dockerty (Hampton Loade Stationmaster) for their commitment and achievements in these roles previously and wish them well in their future SVR undertakings.

We have recently advertised for Head of Travelling Ticket Inspectors and Senior Duty Officer. I will issue another NBI with the names of the successful candidates, following the next Guarantee Company Board meeting.

Steven Chapple Operations Manager

January 18th 2017 

Last month we welcomed 3 new members of staff to our offices at Comberton Place.

  • Shirley Ann Breed - Taking the position of Accounts Assistant, Shirley Ann Breed brings a wealth of accounting experience to the role at the SVR. Shirley accepted a permanent position on the 1st December after having worked in the Accounts department in a temporary position since 6th October. Shirley is part-AAT qualified and is a qualified legal cashier; she also has an OU degree in English Literature and Economics.

  • Stan Jones - The position of Marketing and Events Assistant has been filled by Stan Jones following his selection in the interview process in December. Stan holds a BA in Business Administration and an MSc in Management and Marketing with distinction classification. Stan joins the SVR coming from a similar role in his previous company as the Sales and Marketing Coordinator to a wind turbine manufacturer in Hartlebury.

  • Sue Harris - Sue joined the SVR on 1st December as Accounts Assistant. Sue is AAT qualified and has experience dealing with a wide variety of financial matters, including purchase ledgers and payroll. I’m sure you will join me I welcoming these new starters to the Severn Valley Railway and wish them all the best in their new roles. 

Jane Preece HR Officer

October 25th 2016 - Neil Taylor - Works Manager 

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Neil Taylor as Works Manager for the Engineering Services Motive Power Department. 

Neil has started in his new role this week shadowing staff in the department before undertaking an induction which will include the input of steam locomotive engineers who will give Neil a grounding in the complexities of overhaul and maintenance of our steam fleet.

Neil is a professional engineer with over 30 years of experience in the aerospace and defence sectors. He is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). Neil commenced his career as an engineering apprentice with British Aerospace. He spent time in manufacturing engineering and manufacturing management. After moving to organisation development and the implementation of Lean Practices he went to work within Military Aircraft. Here most of his roles involved developing new businesses, including the development of a repair and overhaul business for heritage aircraft. In 2005 Neil moved to south Wales to become the Engineering Director for BAE Systems Land Systems Munitions (formerly Royal Ordnance).

In 2008, Neil became Director of Engineering for General Dynamics United Kingdom Limited, with responsibility for more than 700 engineers across the UK, in multiple disciplines. Neil developed the Engineering function in all aspects of people, process and technology to maintain GD as a powerful technical solutions organisation. In 2013 alongside his day job Neil led the radical re-organisation of the business which significantly reduced cost and reshaped GD for the future.

Please do introduce yourselves to Neil.

Nick Ralls General Manager

October 24th 2016 - Donna Sheridan - Education Co-ordinator

I am very happy to announce that Donna Sheridan has joined Amanda Peplow as Education Co-ordinator. Donna will be based at Highley Engine House to support in the development of the education department and the aims for 2017

Donna’s first day is Tuesday 25th October 2016.

Donna has worked for Severn Valley railway for a number of years in accounts and we are delighted to have her experience and skills on board with us at such an exciting time. Donna’s main role is to work with Amanda closely, focusing on new business, events, administration and customer service.

I am sure you will all join me in welcoming Donna to the team.

Andrew Burton Heritage Support and Commercial Manager

October 7th 2016 - Jane Preece - HR/Heritage Skills Training Academy Officer 

Jane Preece has joined the SVR in the role of HR/Heritage Skills Training Academy Officer. She will be providing HR services to the company and be working to develop the training academy and oversee the apprentices.

Jane had a varied career in Human Resources working in the newspaper industry, further education, electrical wholesaling and social housing. At Walsall Housing Group, Jane’s responsibilities included the Construction Skills Training Centre working closely with apprentices.

Having relocated to the West Midlands from Wales 25 years ago, Jane recently moved to Kidderminster and is looking forward to bringing her narrowboat here in the next few months. She says “I was excited to see this role advertised on the SVR Facebook page and delighted to be appointed to the role. Having always loved railways, SVR being on the doorstep is one of benefits of living in Kidderminster. I never imagined that I would be working here one day. I look forward to meeting colleagues and volunteers in due course”.

Richard Thurlow who has played a key role in the launch and development of the Heritage Skills Training Academy will be working with Jane during a handover period before retiring from his post.

Alan Berck-May who has been acting as the HR Officer in a consultancy capacity will also be handing over responsibility for HR to Jane over the coming weeks.

May I take this opportunity to both welcome Jane to the SVR but also recognise and thank Richard and Alan for their significant contribution to their roles over the last few years.

Nick Ralls General Manager

Jane Preece HR Officer

Simon Hart Accountant and Company Secretary

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