Special guest on board at railway’s members’ event

Patti Lomax, right, with Aln Valley Railway volunteer Ken Middlemist and her friend Fiona Patterson.
Patti Lomax, right, with Aln Valley Railway volunteer Ken Middlemist and her friend Fiona Patterson.

The widow of a man whose best-selling book inspired a hit war film was a special guest at an exclusive event held at a heritage railway.

Patti Lomax attended a members’ day at the Aln Valley Railway (AVR) earlier this month. Her late husband, Eric, was the author of The Railway Man.

The autobiography, detailing his harrowing experiences as a Japanese prisoner of war, inspired the namesake 2013 film starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman.

Eric, who died in Berwick’s Tweedmouth House residential home in October 2012, aged 93, was the first honorary member of the AVR.

Patti has continued his honorary membership and the railway’s volunteers were delighted to have her visit the AVR a few weeks ago.

She was driven to the Lionheart Station site, in Alnwick, by her good friend Fiona Patterson, whose son Gareth is an active AVR helper.

Patti enjoyed a walk around the site and met many of the board members and volunteers. She visited the railway’s café, museum and shop, had several train rides and then signed the visitors’ book.

Roger Jermy, of the AVR, said: “She said how much she had enjoyed her visit, promising to return before Christmas to see the local children enjoying the Santa Specials which take place at the railway. She very kindly presented the railway with several items including a copy of the film poster and copies of Eric’s book.”

The members’ event was well attended, with some people coming from as far as Inverness, Nottingham and Withernsea. A diesel-hauled brake van train and the small Wickham inspection trolleys were in operation.

l AVR volunteers were runners-up at the 2014 Cornerstone of the Community Award event earlier this month.

It took second spot in the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation Team Award section, which recognises a group which has made great achievements and a positive impact on their local community.

The event is organised by Newcastle Building Society.