The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland is holding a Volunteers Day at Whitehead Railway Museum in September. This will be an opportunity for members of the public to see what goes on behind the scenes at the RPSI’s headquarters in Whitehead – and to hear all about the opportunities to join the team of volunteers who make it all happen.
There are many areas in which the RPSI offers opportunities to would-be volunteers – from working on carriage and locomotive restoration to staffing the Tea Room, acting as a guide to the museum, admin, selling souvenirs and working in the buffet car. Volunteers act as carriage stewards on the Society’s steam trains, and are involved in trackwork and electrical upgrades of the site and train.
No previous knowledge or skill is required – just a willingness to get involved. Induction and training are provided, and there are volunteering opportunities in Whitehead seven days a week. The Society also relies on volunteers to keep the wheels turning on its locomotives and carriages in Dublin.
Mark Walsh has been an RPSI volunteer for 18 years who provides skills and expertise in various areas including Loco Maintenance. “My first love is the operations and the maintenance of the steam locomotives. When you look around Northern Ireland generally you will realise what we have lost of our heritage; we are just about the only people who do the proper coal-shovelling and heavy metal work of previous generations. I find that incredible. The engines do not go without teamwork and some of the things we’ve achieved are incredible.”
Mark adds, “Myself and some others both younger than me became Assessors in Sept 2018. We have put in place a training programme for working on the steam engines that seems to be paying off.”
Lisa Adair, the General Manager of the RPSI, said: “Our volunteers are the lifeblood of the Society and we are always keen to welcome new recruits. This Volunteers Day will provide the opportunity for prospective new team members to meet current volunteers, explore the facilities and discover what is involved to become a volunteer. There is a real camaraderie amongst the team and several of our volunteers have been with us for decades.
“Recruits are required to be 18 plus and we encourage everyone to pop along for a cuppa to find out more.”
The Volunteers day will be hosted on Saturday 28th September, with two sessions held at 11am and 2pm in The Stables Gallery building at the Museum. To register your interest and for more information, visit, https://www.steamtrainsireland.com.