On 8th December 2021 the branch held its traditional Christmas social. The evening opened with a presentation of various slides provided by the members. A topical quiz followed, which proved to be both challenging and competitive!
The main presentation of the evening was by the Sheffield branch chairman, Derek Stuckey, entitled ‘Station Adoption – The Ups & Downs’. The presenter outlined his long-time interest in railways, going back to teenage spotting days and his trusty Ian Allan ABC, in his home base of North Nottinghamshire. The concept of station adoption first came to his attention via an article in the Railway Magazine, in the early 2000’s. The first franchise holder at the commencement of privatisation was Arriva Trains Northern, who were looking for station adopters. This was to be a solo role, involving weekly visits to the allocated station, with a reactive brief to inspect and report back on any issues re safety/repairs/maintenance. Shireoaks station was offered and accepted by him. A good relationship soon developed between him and the franchise holder. This continued successfully until a new franchise holder (Arriva Rail North aka Northern Railway) took over in 2016. A completely different approach was then made, with the emphasis now to be on community involvement. This led to the formation of ‘The Friends of Shireoaks Station’ and the drafting of an improvement plan, and which was fully costed. Unfortunately, the provision of working capital by Northern was very protracted. However good support was given by Bassetlaw District Council and a local house building company. With the necessary funding in place the ‘Friends’ set about improving the ambience and attractiveness of the station with the provision of flower tubs, hanging baskets, ‘Welcome to Shireoaks’ banners, antique railway posters and rainwater butts, providing harvested water for the plants. On the downside the station has suffered some low level vandalism, but this has failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the station team. Future plans include the provision of a mural in one waiting area, more flower tubs, and the future external refurbishment of the redundant station signal box. Also, a planned engagement with the Canal & River Trust to promote the adjacent Chesterfield canal. Despite some setbacks and frustrations, apparently the station team are determined to build upon the successful improvements made and to develop further the good relationship with the local community and various stakeholders.