A group drawn from a team of over 90 volunteers, known as the Friends of the Shakespeare Line (FoSL), who between them look after every railway station between Stratford-upon-Avon and Birmingham, has unleashed a blaze of red, white and blue floral gems at the entrance to Birmingham‘s New Street station today.
Although the Shakespeare Line runs from Birmingham’s Snow Hill and Moor Street stations, Network Rail who manage New Street Station, asked the Friends of the Shakespeare Line if they could bring their planting and horticultural skills to Birmingham to help the rail industry celebrate the Queens Platinum Jubilee. The community volunteers were joined by staff from Network Rail and train operators West Midlands Railway, DRS, Cross Country and Avanti West Coast who all helped to transform the main planters at the front of New Street station with patriotic colours.
The event on Monday morning coincides with major planting schemes now underway at all the railway stations along the Shakespeare Line route from Tyseley to Stratford-upon-Avon stations. The Friends of the Shakespeare Line is a group founded and managed by volunteers to bring together communities from the local areas who love to care for their local stations. The management group, alongside their own volunteer planting activities also work hard to secure sponsorships and third-party funding for the activities and support local economies by using local services and suppliers. One of the results of local buying is a great relationship with Earlswood Garden & Landscape Centre who supply the plants at all the stations along the Shakespeare Line route. The Chair of Friends of the Shakespeare Line, Fraser Pithie, says “We enable local people to get involved with the railway through volunteering their time, we support them with their own plans for local stations and for the passengers, we aim to make travelling by train a great customer experience”. Joseph Brown, Customer Account Manager at Network Rail said: “We have developed a great relationship with the Friends of the Shakespeare Line, who are showing how volunteering can be directed to deliver both an improved customer experience and positively contribute towards social value in each community connected by the railway”. Fay Easton, Head of Stakeholder & Community at West Midlands Railway said "It's inspiring to work with the volunteers who support the region's railways. These people are the bedrock of local communities and we have seen their worth over and over during the years of the pandemic, we all look forward to a brighter future and thank them sincerely for all they do to make our passenger journeys more enjoyable".