Railway's £1 million appeal reached thanks to anonymous donor
NOT many people would whip out a chequebook and sign over £7,000.
But one kind visitor to a much-loved county railway line did just that this week, putting its vintage engines back on track.
The generosity of the benefactor, whose identity is being kept secret, has meant The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR) has steamed past the £1 million mark in its emergency appeal.
He is reported to have made the donation after hearing the organisation was £7,000 short of its target.
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It is just one example of the support which has astounded GWR chiefs and funded vital repair work after major embankment collapses and a severe 2010 winter wiped out £60,000 in business.
Railway chairman Malcolm Temple, who previously declared the railway had been 'brought to its knees' by the disasters, said: "The £1 million emergency appeal was launched by railway enthusiast and music impresario Pete Waterman in 2009 and it immediately struck a chord with local people and the heritage railway movement as a whole.
"We have been astounded by the huge support the railway has received. It's clear that the former 'Honeybourne Line' is held in deep affection by many people."
The GWR operates steam and heritage diesel trains over part of the former Cheltenham to Stratford-upon-Avon railway, but the line was disrupted by two embankment collapses.
The Gotherington repair cost was met partly through insurance, but this wasn't available for the 'Chicken Curve' collapse, just north of Winchcombe station, which landed the volunteer-run railway with a £670,000 bill.
The appeal was further boosted by magazine Steam Railway, which ran a reader appeal and raised almost £70,000.
"It is remarkable that so many people have contributed – whether it's £1 or £10,000, it has enabled the £1 million mark to be passed remarkably quickly and at a time when many families are struggling during the recession," said Mr Temple.
"I'm especially grateful to the gentleman who donated the £7,000 that took us to the target. And the money is still coming in."
The first train for nearly two years is expected to run between Toddington and Winchcombe later this year after the completion of work.