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Passion on the Tracks: 97 -Year-Old Gordon Enjoys Unforgettable Steam Train Day with Swanage Railway

by | Jun 5, 2024 | News | 0 comments

Lewis-Manning Hospice Care have stepped in to provide one of their patients with an unforgettable steam train day experience, in collaboration with Swanage Railway and Corfe Model Village.

Gordon, 97, has nurtured a lifelong passion for trains and locomotives, a love kindled by his train driver father.  As a boy of 10, Gordon would often sneak on to trains, riding on the footplate with his father and father-on-law.  These cherished memories have stayed with him throughout his life.

Gordon moved to Swanage 12 years ago, having fallen in love with the seaside town during a holiday organised by his son following the passing of his beloved wife, Peggie, in 2012. In those days, Gordon enjoyed an active lifestyle, exploring the town, travelling to see trains, and living independently.

However, an accident 3 years ago dramatically altered Gordon’s life. He fell and broke his hip, becoming housebound and experiencing profound loneliness.  Reflecting on this challenging period, Gordon shared, “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.”

For the past 3 years, Gordon has only left his house for hospital visits or to attend Lewis-Manning’s Day Hospice.  His condition recently deteriorated, preventing him from even travelling to the Day Hospice. Consequently, the dedicated team at Lewis-Manning now visit him regularly at home to provide care and support his wellbeing.

In a heart-warming effort to lift Gordon’s spirits and give him something special to look forward to, Lewis-Manning Hospice Care arranged an unforgettable day out on the Swanage Railway steam train line.

The hospice team reached out to Swanage Railway who generously provided tickets for Gordon and Lewis-Manning nurses, Ellie and Paula, to ride the train through the spectacular Purbeck scenery.

Gordon was greeted by the enthusiastic team at Swanage Railway and was thrilled to see the unique Victorian London and Southwestern Railway T3 class steam locomotive No. 563 arrive. Gordon revelled in taking photographs from the window, enjoying the breath-taking countryside views.

The journey included a stop at Corfe and the Model Village attraction where he was warmly welcomed back by staff after a long absence. The staff remembered Gordon fondly, reminiscing about his previous visits. Gordon, Ellie, and Paula savoured tea and cake in the beautiful café grounds before exploring the model village.

Reflecting on the day, Gordon expressed his gratitude saying, “Thank you so much to Lewis-Manning. It’s my first day out in 3 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.”

Purbeck Nurse 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.”

Swanage Railway Trust chairman Frank Roberts said: “We were delighted to welcome 97-year old 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 – which has been rebuilt from nothing since 1976 by dedicated volunteers – is what our work is all about.”

“Organisations like Lewis-Manning Hospice Care carry out vital and wonderful work,” added Frank who has been a dedicated Swanage Railway volunteer for 40 years.

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