Chris’s new role at Beccles station

IN its heyday it was the pride of Beccles with a tidy platform, manicured flower beds and not a piece of litter in sight.

But travel forward 50 years and the picture at the town’s railway station is very different.

Weeds have colonised the now disused island platform and the floral displays that were once the pride of the station lie hidden from view.

But moves are afoot to restore the station to its former glory ahead of the creation of the Beccles passing loop which should see the arrival of hourly trains at the station in 2012.

Last year Network Rail announced it was launching a community scheme at Beccles in a bid to kick start improvements and encourage local people to take pride in the station.

Now 22-year-old resident Chris Maddison has taken on the role of station adopter, a voluntary role which will see him keep a watchful eye on the station, reporting any problems such as vandalism and helping to keep it tidy.

He is hoping to recruit a band of helpers to assist in clearing the station’s island platform of weeds.

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Mr Maddison has become something of a community champion since moving to the town two years ago.

He told this week how he had turned his life around after getting into trouble with the police and said he sees community work as a way of giving back.

Mr Maddison describes himself as a full-time volunteer. He works at Beccles bell tower, taking tours up the tower and looking after the garden. He also spent many hours helping the Beccles Lido project, cutting back bushes and clearing mud and leaves from the pool.

Mr Maddison said of his role of station adopter: “I will be someone who keeps the place nice and tidy, makes sure the bins are emptied, the plants are watered and the platform is free of litter.

“I am looking for people to come and help clear the island platform. It is very overgrown and full of weeds. I am sure it will only take a few days to get it cleared. Everybody should take part and I would really like to see some younger people involved.

“I want it to look as it did in its heyday with a traditional station sign, flower pots and flower beds and wooden seats.”

Mr Maddison said local people should seize the opportunity to get the station looking good ahead of the 2012 London Olympics.

Network Rail spokesperson Russell Spink said: “Community schemes like the one at Beccles are a great way to get local people involved and take pride in their station.

“We’re delighted to have Chris as our ‘station adopter’ and wish him well in recruiting a determined band of volunteers who can help us restore Beccles to its former glory ahead of the arrival of hourly trains at the station.

“Our plans for a passing loop will bring the disused island platform back into use for the first time in decades.

“With the help of local people we want to bring that platform back to life by clearing away the overgrown vegetation and cultivating the original flower beds which currently lie hidden from view.”

l Mr Maddison is looking for volunteers to help him. Anybody under the age of 18 has to be accompanied by a responsible adult. To get involved contact Mr Maddison on 01502 715970.