First ever Friends group celebrates 25th Birthday

The Friends of Handforth Station (FoHS) celebrated the 25th Anniversary of their founding at a Gala Event in Handforth Youth Centre on Tuesday 30th November.

The FoHS was the very first "Friends of a Station" group in the world, formed in November 1996 by local campaigners Mike Bishop and Steve Nash, amongst others.

The Gala attendees represented many of the groups that have contributed to the success that is Handforth Station today. These included local support groups like DSN, the Seashell Trust, and Time Out Group, as well as representatives from Handforth Town Council, local Rotarians, Handforth Library, Handforth Scouts and many more.

Representatives from the Rail Industry also attended, including Network Rail, Northern Trains and the Community Rail Network.

Mike Bishop, President of FoHS, said "Unfortunately Covid meant that some people couldn't attend – for example our Twin 'Friends of Malahide Station' in Ireland couldn't join us. We were, however, delighted at the large turnout for what was a very enjoyable evening."

Jenny Barnes, Chair of FoHS, added, "It is a delight to volunteer with such a fun-loving group of friends, who enjoy making a positive impact on such an important space within our community. From gardening through timetable consultation to lobbying for step-free access, Friends groups very successfully connect communities with the rail industry.

"Our founding treasurer, Steve Nash, sadly passed away three years ago but the inspirational achievements of himself, Mike Bishop and the other founders of FoHS have paved the way to show what can be achieved by a capable and enthusiastic Friends network."

During the evening, Directors from Network Rail and Northern Trains unveiled an artistic screen commemorating the Friends' first 25 years. This artwork, designed by FoHS Lead Artist Paul Pickford working with local schools and groups, is the first of several planned enhancements to the step-free access

Mike added "Art contributes distinction and visual enrichment, and is a tangible expression of quality and care.

"We shall be mounting the new screen on the concourse soon, where we expect it to delight station users for the next 25 years."

Jenny concluded, "Successful as we have been, we are always very keen to welcome new people to our group. Volunteers can register on our web-site, or leave their details with Terry in the station on weekday mornings."

Friends of Handforth Station