Swanage Railway dream day out for 97 year old Gordon

A Swanage man who hadn’t left his house for three years except for health appointments, enjoyed a rail day trip on the heritage line, thanks to Swanage Railway and a team of nurses from Lewis Manning Hospice Care.

Gordon aged 97, who’s been passionate about trains since childhood, moved to Swanage in 2012 having fallen in love with the town during a holiday organised by his son following the death of his wife Peggie.

97 year old Gordon visits Swanage Railway Thursday 16 May 2024
Andrew PM Wright

Day out for Gordon (centre) with left to right: Lewis Manning nurse Paula, volunteer deputy station master Pete Maffey, Lewis Manning senior nurse Ellie Southers and chair of Swanage Railway Trust Frank Roberts

Fell and broke his hip

For many years he enjoyed an independent active lifestyle, exploring Purbeck and visiting the railway.

However, an accident three years ago dramatically altered Gordon’s life. He fell and broke his hip, becoming housebound and experiencing profound loneliness.

More recently his condition has deteriorated, preventing him from even travelling to the Lewis Manning Day Hospice, however the nurses continue to regularly visit him at home.

Reflecting on this challenging period, Gordon said:

“The last time I tried to leave the house, my whole body was shaking and trembling, I couldn’t control it and I ended up in hospital. It was really scary.”

97 year old Gordon visits Swanage Railway Thursday 16 May 2024
Andrew PM Wright

Swanage Railway making a heritage carriage accessible with a ramp

Unforgettable steam train experience

Having heard Gordon’s stories of how as a 10 year old he would sneak on to trains, riding on the footplate with his train driver father, the nurses from Lewis Manning wanted to give him an unforgettable steam train experience.

They contacted Swanage Railway who were more than happy to provide tickets for Gordon and his nurses Ellie and Paula, and organise a ramp to provide wheelchair access onto the train.

Gordon was greeted by the team at Swanage Railway and was thrilled to see the newly restored Victorian T3 steam locomotive No. 563 arrive at Swanage station.

The journey on Thursday 16th May 2024 included a stop at Corfe Castle and the Model Village attraction, where he was warmly welcomed back by staff after a long absence and enjoyed tea and cake.

Swanage Railway steam loco T9 30120 at Corfe Castle

Enjoying the view of Corfe Castle from the train

“Best day I have had in years!”

Gordon said:

“Thank you so much to Lewis-Manning. It’s my first day out in three years. This is the best day I have had in years!

“I can’t believe the experience that I’ve had and I was so wonderfully looked after and supported by the nurses, Ellie and Paula, without them I wouldn’t have been able to leave my home.”

Gordon and Ellie at Corfe Castle Model Village
Lewis Manning

Tea and cake at the Corfe Castle Model Village

“Profound impact of community support”

Lewis Manning nurse who covers Purbeck, Ellie Suthers said:

“This special and unique outing highlights Lewis-Manning Hospice Care’s dedication to enhancing the quality of life for their patients, ensuring they experience joy and fulfilment.

“The collaboration with Swanage Railway and the Model Village showcases the profound impact of community support in helping to make dreams come true.

“A huge thank you to everyone for helping to make Gordon’s dream possible, it was a real joy to spend the time with him and witness his delight.”

97 year old Gordon visits Swanage Railway Thursday 16 May 2024
Andrew PM Wright

The newly restored Victorian T3 locomotive is one of the railway’s main attractions

“Sharing the enjoyment”

The Swanage branch line was opened in May 1885 and enjoyed many years of success until competition from the car led to British Rail closing the line in January 1972.

However volunteers started rebuilding Swanage Railway in 1976 and now the heritage line has been reconnected to the main line at Wareham, although it only regularly operates between Swanage and Norden.

Swanage Railway attracts thousands of visitors every year with regular special events.

Chair of Swanage Railway Trust Frank Roberts said:

“We were delighted to welcome Gordon and his Lewis-Manning nurses to the Swanage Railway.

“It was lovely to see that Gordon had not lost his great love of, and enthusiasm for, steam trains. Sharing the enjoyment of the Swanage Railway is what our work is all about.

“Organisations like Lewis-Manning Hospice Care carry out vital and wonderful work.”

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