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  • Janie Biddiscombe


A beautiful hotel in the heart of London; lots of excited people dressed to impress; a drinks reception plus Hugh Edwards it can only be the National Rail Awards 2017! The drinks reception was absolutely packed, filled with mainly men in tuxedos.

At one point I did a circuit of the room trying to find the rest of our party, it was a near on impossible task – everyone just looked the same!!

I kept bumping into the same woman who was also trying to find her party, which we both found hilarious! Then by some miracle I found two of our party; but the rest we found at our table.

The wine started flowing and the evening began. We had to walk through a light tunnel to get to the dinner hall, which was a little surreal.

I was careful with the free wine; I knew I had to get up the next day to make my way home and didn’t want to suffer during the journey (you know you’re getting old when that’s your priority!)

Huw Edwards off the news was the host for the evening and he even came over to our table at one point to say hi (due to the Welsh connection). Who knew he was so funny? He dripped with sarcasm and had some great stories to tell about his various rail experiences over the years.

Our award was fifth in line. We waited patiently and with anticipation. We discussed between us who would be going up to collect the award if we did win and we talked about how far we would have to go to the stage considering our table was right at the back. We listened as all the finalists were called out and their innovations discussed (I’ll admit I didn’t understand most of them!), there was lots of cheering and whooping from our table when ours was mentioned.

Then with bated breath the winner was announced! You could feel the disappointment spread as someone else’s name was called (I was secretly relieved I didn’t have to make the journey to the stage).

However fear not – we were next! Our training software was highly commended by the judges and they said “We were impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment shown by the team”. So we got second place! Not too bad, plus we did get a certificate which we could take some pictures with, so it felt a little bit like we had won!

All in all the night was a huge success filled with various awards, tributes and celebrations.

The most heart wrenching was when they gave awards for bravery to officers from the Transport police who had to deal with the recent terror attacks. I heard some stories first hand about the events which I hadn’t heard before.

But it ended on a high and a visit to the VIP bar!

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