A day that exceeded all expectations and, in many ways, represented the culmination of the first phase of our project. The 10th Anniversary celebration was brought forward from its due date of the 8th November to combine with the accolades following Phil's decision to depart from the enterprise after 10 years involvement deeming his part of the adventure complete.
The day commenced at 1100hrs with Ferrybridge No3 leading a two coach formation on a through trip to Duffield with some 80 working volunteers who had made it all happen. A gentle and splendidly evocative journey took some 55 minutes before arriving alongside the newly reconstructed platform. There were many photo opportunities at Duffield as the locomotive took water and coal before running round the train. Many, firsts were accomplished including the first passenger steam train since 1965 (the 4F excursion) and the first steam locomotive run round in living memory etc. etc. Many local residents were in attendance to witness these momentous events.
The journey back to Wirksworth was more leisurely being all up hill with pleasant stops at Shottle where the owners of Peak Oil were surprised to observe our significant outing and at Idridgehay where no one was perturbed by our pause there. On arrival at Wirksworth, some 30 minutes in advance of the planned schedule, the appropriate speeches were made before anyone could attack the sumptuous buffet.
Opportunity was taken to indulge in some justified mutual back slapping on this most significant day. Peter Taylor thanked all concerned on behalf of the share holders and Mike Craft presented Phil on behalf of EVRA a delightfully restored Midland Railway chair together with life membership of the Association and the results of a collection resulting in a large number of garden centre gift vouchers. Phil responded with a potted history of his time with preserved railways but, strangely didn't mention time before the mast. Ann accompanied Phil and her contribution in the early days of the enterprise was gratefully acknowledged and perhaps didn't want to know about his lonely times on lighthouses.
Jeff excelled with the buffet arrangements and Dorothy organised the puddings together with two magnificent cakes, one to celebrate our 10 years and one to recognise Phil's "retirement".
I can only say that today represented our fledgling organisation at its best and the good will from all who participated created a very warm atmosphere. I am sure those who said some years ago "it would never happen" were revising their script to say "haven't they done well". I found the whole event pulled on the heart strings as we steamed up and down the valley - absolutely marvellous!
10 miles in 10 years, 5 new platforms, no bank borrowings, 8 to 160 workings volunteers - sheer genius.