Bury College students help out on the East Lancashire Railway ‘Santa Special’ trains

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60009 union of south africa at Townsend Fold on the east lancashire railway
60009 at Townsend Fold

The East Lancashire Railway, in Bury, teamed up with Bury College to give travel students the opportunity to gain valuable employability skills when they took part in the Santa Specials hosted by the East Lancashire Railway.

The ELR has been recognised as the second biggest paid attraction in Manchester. They welcomed the students on board to learn skills such as time management, customer service and problem-solving.

More than 40,000 visitors visited from 24th November to the 24th December, it involved carol singing, brass bands and a steam train ride through the Irwell Valley, and visit from Father Christmas himself.

The Travel and Tourism students, who ranged from Level 2 and Level 3 learners, undertook roles such as stewarding, meeting and greeting guests, dressing up as Elf characters and assisting staff on the train.

What did they say?

Charlotte Dagnall, 17 years old from Kearsley, volunteered on the Santa Specials experience every day including Christmas Eve. The enthusiastic Level 3 Travel and Tourism student was delighted to have the opportunity to take part in such a recognised, well-established event. The former Harper Green School pupil said, “The volunteering opportunity with East Lancashire Railway was one of the best things that I have ever done! I completed 88 hours work experience which helped to develop my confidence, conversation skills and how I handle challenging situations.”

East Lancashire Railway Mike Kelly, the Chairman, said, “We always welcome young people to get involved with our heritage railway. We are very grateful for the student volunteers who added real value to the whole Santa Specials experience, I know many of our long serving volunteers enjoyed being with them both to help the students get front-line work experience but also highlight just how much fun we have during this period. With being such a large organisation right on the college’s doorstep we felt that this was a great opportunity to offer leisure experience to Travel and Tourism students. We wanted to visit Bury College to thank and celebrate the students who volunteered and to promote that there are lots of volunteering opportunities with the ELR and our aim to double or triple the number of students gaining work experience with us.”

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