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As a very young boy I lived in St Mary’s Bay and attended New Romney Primary School across the
road from the Church. My family moved from Surrey to Kent in the 50’s when my father was appointed
Warden of the RPSB reserve at Dungeness. We spent our summers at Dungeness living in what we
called the Coast Guard Cottages within sight and sound of the RHDR! I spent many happy hours at the
RHDR station and, under the supervision of the drivers, was allowed to clean the locos and assist in
watering the tender. HSE rules and regulations would, no doubt, prevent that happening today!

It wasn’t until 2005 that my childhood wishes were fulfilled and I had my first driver experience
to be followed, this year, by my ‘Gold’ day.

Did I enjoy the day – you bet!

The day started with a warm welcome, a cup of tea and introductions. Some sensible do’s and don’ts
and the, now mandatory, health and safety advice.

Ian Hoad, our driver for the day took myself, and my fellow driver Mike, through the plan for the day
the highlight of which was a full run in the cab from Hythe to Dungeness. Crossing the Marsh with
hands on the regulator and whistle, the ‘road’ ahead and calm and clear advice from Ian was a
childhood dream fulfilled.

Riding in the coach with the Guard was a great opportunity to chat about general railway practice and
the day-to-day running of the railway

A more than substantial lunch was taken in the café and my 1993 RHDR album was signed by driver,
guard and co-driver.

At the end of the day Southern Maid was returned to shed, my wife joined us and we enjoyed, over a
cup of tea in the shed office, a de-brief and long chat about the day-to-day running of the railway plus a
tour of the shed and a status report on the other locos on shed. Sad to see that my childhood favourite,
Hurricane, was not running but I see that as an opportunity to come back for another Gold Day!

Lesley would like to record her appreciation of the courtesy offered to her at the start and end of the
day and I would like to say a special thank you to Ian Hoad whose conversation, knowledge and
expertise capped of a great day.

Thank you and well done RHDR.

Roderick and Lesley Axell

P.S. We went back New Romney station the following day to sign up for my ‘OAP life membership’!

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