Mazen Salmou, a former Syrian TV reporter and Charlotte Marsland, a community group champion, got to see their names unveiled on the side of Great Western Railway (GWR) Intercity Express Train 800031 in their honour.
The naming is part of the BBC Radio’s Make a Difference Superstars campaign, which was run in conjunction with GWR who agreed to rename trains in recognition of the public-spirited competition winners who selflessly helped others at the peak of the pandemic.
The contest was created as an opportunity for people to nominate individuals who make a real difference in their local community and was open for entries from the nine areas which the GWR network covers.
Mazen is from Bromsgrove but originally came from Syria as part of Worcestershire County Council’s refugee settlement scheme and felt that he wanted to give back to the community that gave him his new home. Mazen selflessly undertook a one-man mission as he put it to ‘help the community that has welcomed me’ making films to present the town positively, also volunteering with the Bromsgrove Community Support Group by running tasks to support vulnerable people throughout the lockdown, delivering supplies and prescriptions on his bike.
Charlotte is from Stourport-on-Severn and is a trainee driver with West Midlands Trains and set up the Stourport Mutual Aid Facebook group to support isolated people during the start of the first lockdown.
Dozens of volunteers stepped up to support hundreds of families in the local area by delivering Easter goodies and essentials like food and prescriptions, dog walking services and also telephone buddies.
Charlotte also went on to organise a mini food bank saying that she had been inspired by her grandad Terry Murphy, who had worried for others in his position during the pandemic. Sadly, Terry has since passed away. Charlotte has been described as showing ‘outstanding and unselfish devotion to the people of Stourport-on-Severn’.
Great Western Railway Interim Regional Development Manager (East) Tom MacLachlan said: “Mazen and Charlotte went to incredible lengths to support their communities and we’re thrilled to add their names to the side of an Intercity Express Train.
“The GWR has a long and proud history of naming trains after Great Westerners – past and present heroes from across our network – and it’s a real treat to add these two community stalwarts to that list.
“It was a privilege to partner with the BBC Make a Difference campaign and the stories which featured on BBC local radio were truly overwhelming.”
Head of Audio and Digital for BBC England, Chris Burns said: “We have been amazed by the response of many listeners to our Make a Difference campaign on Local BBC Radio, as listeners have been helping each other out throughout the pandemic.
“It has been humbling to learn about the kind-hearted efforts of so many in our communities and Mazen and Charlotte are great examples to the rest of us. Congratulations to them and to the team at BBC Hereford & Worcester.”
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