Prime Minister Boris Johnson presented a Railway Benefit Fund (RBF) “Heart of Gold” award to an Avanti West Coast employee during a surprise visit to Warrington Bank Quay station.
Avanti West Coast employee Jennifer Birdsall was awarded the honour in recognition of sitting for hours talking to a woman contemplating suicide, and looking after vulnerable customers and the station’s community.
During her career as a Customer Service Assistant at Warrington Bank Quay, Jennifer has helped save the lives of many vulnerable individuals.
After the Prime Minister, accompanied by Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt. Hon Grant Shapps MP, had presented Jennifer with her award, he talked to Jennifer about her role at the station before boarding an Avanti West Coast service for Wolverhampton.
Jennifer has built an army of fans at Warrington. As well as helping vulnerable people, she supplies cups of tea and coffee to train enthusiasts and works with local volunteers to arrange station plant displays.
Jennifer’s colleagues at the station had nominated her for the award in Railway Benefit Fund’s “Going the Extra Mile” category. Although she was expecting the award, she did not expect to receive it in person from the Prime Minister, who had stopped at Warrington during a tour of stations in the north.
The RBF is a UK charity founded in 1858, and for over 160 years it has solely dedicated itself to supporting current, retired, and former railway employees and their families through tough times.
The RBF’s Heart of Gold Awards celebrate those in the rail industry who go the extra mile and make a real difference. Nominations and voting are by railway staff and give them the opportunity to thank colleagues that they appreciate, value, and who inspire them.
After receiving the award, Jennifer said: “I’m a bit overwhelmed I have to say. Never did I expect to win anything. I’m just doing my job.
“The Railway Benefit Fund do such great work, so it means a lot to be recognised by them. But the award is a much for me as it is for the wonderful team we have at Bank Quay.
“We’re all part of the railway family and to have the Prime Minister and Secretary of State visit was extra special.”
Claire Houghton, CEO of the Railway Benefit Fund, said: “RBF are delighted to present our Going the Extra Mile Award to Jennifer. We were so moved by her nomination which demonstrated her incredible kindness and dedication to her colleagues and customers. Congratulations Jennifer and keep up the good work!”
Pete Waterman, the pop impresario and President of RBF who uses Warrington Bank Quay regularly, also praised Jennifer, saying “The Going the Extra Mile Award couldn’t go to a more deserving individual. I see Jenny regularly when I travel from Warrington Bank Quay, and she is always so warm and friendly. Jenny truly has a Heart of Gold.”
Jennifer added that she was honoured to receive the award on behalf of her colleagues at the station. “To win the Heart of Gold Award is truly amazing and I’m proud to receive it on behalf of all my colleagues at Warrington Bank Quay. We’re a close-knit team, who are proud to serve Warrington and want to make a difference in the community.”