Train-mad boy waves off first steam ride at Bluebell Railway after donating his pocket money to save the attraction

A train-mad youngster who gave all his pocket money to save the steam railway has waved the green flag to see off the first train as the line reopened.

Friday, 7th August 2020, 2:59 pm
Alex Venton, six, blowsthe whistle as the Bluebell Railway began running trains again after a 20-week closure. SUS-200708-134236001

Six-year-old Alex Venton blew the whistle as the popular Bluebell Railway in Sussex began running trains again on Friday (August 7) after a 20-week closure.

Alex and his family were special guests of the railway as a token of thanks for his contribution to the plea for financial help during the shutdown.

He has been keen on trains since the age of two and is a member of the Bluebell Railway’s club for juniors. The not-for-profit railway launched an emergency appeal in March to provide enough money to recover from the closure.

Alex’s mum Sophie Venton said: “He read about the appeal in the railway’s newsletter and said, ‘Can I give the money from my money box?’.

“I said, ‘Are you sure you want to?’ because he had been saving up for a new coach for his train set but he insisted he wanted to help.”

He then offered all his saved pocket money which came to £6.10 and Sophie topped it up to £20 as a donation to the railway.

The family were given a VIP behind-the-scenes tour of the workshops and interactive exhibition area before taking a ride.

Trevor Swainson, Bluebell’s funding organiser, said: “We were touched that Alex had emptied his money box because he loves trains so much and particularly his concern that the railway might struggle after lockdown.”