SVR (Holdings) PLC
SVR (Holdings) PLC (Company number 01046274) is a Company with Shareholders, although no dividend is paid, with all profit used to support the running of the Railway. It owns the infrastructure and assets of the SVR, employs the paid staff, and is responsible for the operation, finance, governance, planning, customer service and management of the SVR.
Interim chairman and director
Chris has been actively involved with the SVR since 1969, as both a guard and then as Bridgnorth station master for 33 years. He’s served at board level for 40 years. Before retiring as a chartered management accountant, he held roles at senior management level across several leading automotive companies.
Chairman, Guarantee Board.
Director, Holdings Board.
Trustee, Charitable Trust
Diane joined the Trust board in 2021.
Diane became a director of Guarantee Board in 1993, taking over as chairman in 2020 and becoming a director of the Holdings Board at the same time. She joined the Trust board in 2021.
Diane became a working member at 16 on the Severn Valley Limited and on Bridgnorth based buffet cars in 1978. She moved to the Plant & Machinery Department, assisting with trolley and diesel shunter maintenance, passing out as a shunter driver in 1980, before joining the station staff, concentrating on booking office and station gardens. She also helped found the Severn Valley Venturer dining service and continues as part of its management team and is a regular cook. She was co-ordinator for the vital Santa operation from 1995 to 2019, retiring from the role in January 2020. Diane is chair of the Staffing Committee, which focusses on volunteers, in partnership with the Volunteer Liaison Office and she sits on the Accommodation Forum - a group committed to trying to improve facilities for volunteers on the SVR..
In her "real life", Diane worked as a Primary School teacher for over 30 years and, for the five years before taking early retirement, became an Acting Headteacher raising the attainment of failing schools. She makes use of her professional skills and knowledge in supporting the development of educational and people centred activities.
Graeme has been a Director since September 2018, as Commercial Director. Graeme grew up in Hertfordshire, his enthusiasm for railways fostered by his father who grew up with the Nine Elms’ turntable at the end of his road. His railway career includes periods with Railtrack, Virgin Trains, the Strategic Rail Authority and Arriva Trains Wales. He has been Chief Executive of rail tour promoter Steam Dreams, a Trustee of the A1Steam Locomotive Trust, Vice Chairman of The Gresley Society Trust and has developed his own consultancy business. He has volunteered at the NYMR and the National Railway Museum’s main line support crew. In 2002 Graeme passed out as a main line fireman with West Coast Railways.
Chris has been a volunteer with the Railway since 1970. With the formation of the Project Team in 2009, he was appointed estate manager, charged with overseeing site tidying and restoration of visitor areas. The Railway is a family hobby for Chris, with his wife and sons also being involved. He is Bridgnorth Stationmaster. By profession Chris is a Chartered Electrical Engineer, running a successful consultancy.
Andy Barr O.B.E.
Married with two grown up children, Andrew has been a director since 2014. He assisted the former General Manager with the high level Safety Documentation for Incident and Emergency Management and also reviewing the safety case documentation. He worked for for London Underground for 50 years where he led the 150th Anniversary celebrations, running steam trains in service through central London tube stations. He also headed Heritage Operations for the London Underground and London Buses.
Alan has been involved with the SVR for many years, first volunteering at Bridgnorth with the civil engineering gang, whilst starting a full-time career in the building industry. This combined his Railway interest with hands-on experience of construction and maintenance. His first major involvement was in the rescue of Yorton signalbox, near Wem in Shropshire, and its subsequent re-erection at Arley, starting a close lifelong association there. Career-wise, Alan worked for a private architect's practice, Staffordshire County Council, and is currently with Wolverhampton City Council, engaged in conservation and school schemes. Alan's building, heritage and railway interests led to him becoming a National Heritage Awards judge twenty years ago, and whilst declaring an interest with SVR entries, he has at the same time encouraged Valley participation. He continues to have a deep interest in the diesel shunters of the 08 Society, and was partly responsible for the rescue of roof canopy steelwork at Wolverhampton Low Level intended to provide platform weather protection at Kidderminster. Alan still spends most Sundays hands-on at Arley, with others, helping to run and maintain the station. He is one of the three Guarantee Company representatives on the Holdings Board.
Jonathan 'Gus' Dunster
Gus is married with two sons, and has been involved in railway preservation since 1988, joining the Railway in 1991 and having been an active volunteer ever since. Jonathan is a career railwayman, having joined British Railways straight after leaving college in 1987. A Member of the Institution of Railway Operators, in his career to date Jonathan has held a number of operational management positions and in 2022 retired as Avanti West Coast Trains' Executive Director of Operations and Safety, to take up the role of Director at R09 Consulting Ltd. In March 2023, he took on the role of interim managing director for SVR (Holdings) Plc
Originally from Birmingham, Mark trained as a chartered accountant with Deloitte before spending seven years in a variety of international finance roles with Cadbury. He has worked in the rail industry for 11 years, having joined Virgin Trains in 2011. He was promoted to executive finance director in 2014 – a position he retained through the transition to Avanti West Coast in 2019.
Mark left AWC in 2022 to pursue a portfolio career in the charity/not-for-profit sector and is pleased to have been invited to join the board of SVR(H). He looks forward to supporting the organisation on its journey to securing a financially sustainable future.
Mark lives in Leamington Spa with his wife Nicky and their two children. He is also a member of a running club and an amateur chamber orchestra.
Director (Holdings & Guarantee Boards)
Michelle is an SVR volunteer with a wide range of interests in the Railway. Her desire to volunteer at the Railway grew after many happy childhood memories of spending time around Bridgnorth station and many journeys on the SVR, leading to her wedding reception being held on the SVR where they chartered a train.
After this she had a desire to give her time back to the Railway, to ensure the future of Bridgnorth station as a key feature of the town, so she started as a Booking Office Clerk in Bridgnorth. More recently she has also taken on additional responsibilities as platform staff at Bridgnorth station, a role that builds on the skills and knowledge she has gained within the Booking Office, it continues to enable her to be public-facing, ensuring the safety of our passengers, helping with any queries and promoting the Railway. She can also be found at Arley over Christmas since she started as a volunteer; this is a role that she really enjoys, as she feels it isn’t really Christmas until her elf hat has been put on.
Michelle is always keen to find new volunteers and soon recruited her husband to the Bridgnorth Station Maintenance Team (WWCC) and persuaded him to become a Guard.
Outside the SVR Michelle lives in Bridgnorth and is a Senior Management Accountant for a global logistics company; her background in this profession lead to her joining Rob Whattons' Finance Committee, one of four sub-committees set up by the SVR G Board in recent times. She is one of the three Guarantee Company representatives on the Holdings Board
Peter grew up near Stourbridge. He joined the Railway in 1967 later becoming a guard. Absent for some years through family commitments, in 1998 he re-joined the Bridgnorth team, then re-qualified as a guard. Joining the Board in 2013, he has chaired the Audit Committee since then. A barrister, Peter is now retired following a prosecuting career, starting in the Director of Public Prosecutions Department, London, and finishing with over seven years as Legal and Technical Advisor to the Director, Anti-Corruption Bureau, Malawi. He was a governor of an NHS Foundation Trust, and a local councillor.
Steve is a career engineer, having worked in both the gas and railway industries. He is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a past president of the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers and a past president of the Permanent Way Institution. He is a fellow of the Institution of Gas Engineers, the Permanent Way Institution and the Institution of Civil Engineers.
After a 20-year career in the gas industry, Steve joined the railway industry in 2007 as Network Rail’s national maintenance director with responsibility for 18,000 people and a £1.4 billion annual budget to maintain the national railway infrastructure. During his four years in the role, Steve reduced the maintenance backlog from 25% to virtually zero, reduced headcount by 3,000, reduced annual costs by £200 million and reduced infrastructure failures by 30%, setting the foundations for some of the best train performance in modern railway history.
After a short spell working for Network Rail’s chief executive, Steve took on the national track renewals and enhancements portfolio in 2012, leading this team for the next eight years. During this time, eight Safety Council Sword of Honour awards were achieved, along with a Globe of Honour for sustainability excellence, engineering overruns reduced by 80%, alliance contracts were introduced and high-speed handbacks became the norm, all of which significantly reduced disruption to passengers.
In 2020, Steve established his own consultancy business providing him with an opportunity to work with multiple clients in both non-executive and advisory roles.