Retiring Totnes Times reporter gets his hands dirty!
When the South Devon Railway’s PR man Dick Wood learned that Richard Davies was retiring this spring as senior district reporter at the Totnes Times after a ten-year stint on the paper when their paths crossed many times, he decided to offer him a farewell treat for his sterling reporting and make one of Richard’s childhood dreams of going on the footplate of a steam railway engine come true!
Richard willingly accepted his retirement present and the date was set for Monday 31st March for him and his wife Trish to visit and travel down the line. Armed with some old clothes, gloves and a railway jacket, Richard joined the engine crew of veteran driver Dave Knowling and fireman Lance Hale on board Collett Goods loco No. 3205, but he was in for a surprise!
Richard was only expecting to go for a ride but not to have to work for it too, and was handed the shovel and told to get some coal into the firebox! But, just as he had done throughout his career, he got on with the job and arrived at Totnes beaming from ear to ear and ready for the return leg to Buckfastleigh where, for once, he was the focus of the story and photographers!
In addition to working at the Totnes Times, Richard was also at the Herald Express for 18 months previously and been a journalist all his working life in London, Bristol, Wiltshire and Devon.
Richard said: “I’d like to thank everyone at the South Devon Railway so very much for what Wallace and Gromit would undoubtedly have called ‘A Grand Day Out’ on the line.
“It was a wonderful experience and incredible how just the appearance of the steam train made people smile - at stations, crossings, in fields, wherever, they just looked up and smiled, as if it brought something special into their lives.
“To say I have discovered muscles I didn't know I had after shovelling coal would be nothing less than the truth, but it was great fun, so a big thank you to everyone at the South Devon Railway who made me so welcome on the day."
31st March 2014