After a very busy 2014, I want to start with a thank you for the tremendous efforts over the last year. It was an incredibly challenging year, and I’m very proud to say that we have been presented with a ‘Significant Achievement Award’ by Keighley Town Council for the fantastic work of over 100 of our volunteers on the Tour de France weekend, which is a reminder of the amazing efforts of so many volunteers to make that weekend such a success.
It was a year in which we have enjoyed ‘Big Jim’ and ‘Wells’ re-entering traffic and most recently seen 75078 beginning test runs. We should see 85 back in traffic soon as well, and work progresses on 41241. Work continues behind the scenes on the café development at Oxenhope and I’m very pleased to say that Roger France, who retired recently, has offered to act as our project manager, which means that we can make real progress in the New Year. You will see that work has commenced on the mezzanine floor in Oxenhope Carriage & Wagon, and we are looking at ways to fund the planned extension of the new shed and building to cover the wheel drop at Haworth. We also faced a number of challenges and potential opportunities during the year, such as the Royal Oak in Haworth remaining vacant and more recently plans by the Parish Council for the Haworth Fire Station have fallen through, we understand, so we are considering what – if any – commercial and other opportunities these might offer the Railway.
We have enjoyed the financial benefits of a very busy Santa season and some fantastic events during the year, but Robert Glen, our newly appointed Finance and Enterprise Director, has cautioned that we need to work hard to generate additional income to help realise all of our longer-term aspirations. Robert is developing proposals for generating this additional income, whilst being very mindful of our operational and volunteer constraints. With that in mind, we are going to be establishing a skills database of the wider membership to help identify potential new volunteers. One such is Martin Shaw, a long standing member but only recently a volunteer, who is drawing on his significant professional experience to work with the Society Board to help us develop our longer term strategic plan, which we have wanted to do for many years. More on these various projects will follow in the New Year, but do please contact me if you would like to discuss further.
I would like to end where I started and thank everyone for contributing to a very successful 2014. Many volunteered over the Christmas period but I do hope that you had a restful Christmas Day, and will be ready for an exciting – and I’m sure challenging – 2015.