IT has not been long since the great and the good of York gathered at St Lawrence’s Church to honor a very special woman.
Among those present as Rene Braithwaite, 97, was presented with her British Empire Medal (BEM) by North Yorkshire Lord-Lieutenant Jo Ropner last month was York Mayor Chris Cullwick ; York Sheriff Ashley Mason; and the Bishop of Selby, John Thomson.
More recently, however, St Lawrence Church Hall has been taken over by an entirely different group of people – model train enthusiasts.
There was, however, a connection between the events. Lord Mayor Chris Cullwick and his wife Joy attended both.
The model railroad show on Saturday March 5 was organized by the York Area Group of the North York Moors Railway.
Band member Nick Beilby admitted that they decided to put on the show “for the sole reason that we wanted to get people out and make them smile”.
“But we were delighted to welcome the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, who showed great interest in the exhibits,” Nick said.
“The Vicar of Saint-Laurent, Father Adam Romanis, a model railroad enthusiast, also spent time with us.”
Nine exhibitors participated in the show. And among the exhibits – alongside a host of model locomotives and trains – was a model of Skipwith station and locally built 7mm scale building models in York.
There were also pre-war tinplate Hornby model trains and Hornby Dublo models from the 1950s and early 1960s.
“The Derwent Valley Light Railway and the Yorkshire Wolds Railway also brought displays, and the ladies of St Lawrence entertained everyone all day with superb refreshments!” Nick said.
The NYMR, or North Yorkshire Moors Railway, is the heritage railway that runs trains through the North York Moors between Pickering and Whitby.
The York Area Group is actually a separate charity, Nick said. “But we provide the railroad with financial support for rolling stock, track and structure maintenance. We also support educational projects at NYMR.”
The group also owns a historic diesel shunter, which is being restored to working order at the Derwent Valley Light Railway. It holds monthly meetings at St Lawrence Church Hall, where speakers speak on various transport-related topics – so the Church Hall seemed the obvious place for the show.
The event, which ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., was not intended as a fundraiser. “But after all the expenses we had a surplus of £300!” Nick said.
The event was such a success that the band is already considering hosting another show, Nick added.
“Feedback from the public has been overwhelmingly positive, with a young father messaging us saying he can’t wait to bring his son to our next modeling show, which may well be in November!”