It is with the deepest sadness that we report the death in early February of regular volunteer, Richie Gregory. For the team at KSE, we have lost 'one of our own' and we all send our deepest sympathies to Cath and the family.
As with all volunteer projects, some individuals happily confine themselves essentially to one specific area of personal interest whilst others, such as Richie, contribute in a wide variety of ways. At KSE, he worked predominantly on the S&T and trackwork aspects of the scheme, but was equally at home, for example, acting as a steward parking cars for the 'Santa' event. However, Richie's contribution to the project was not just confined to attending KSE - far from it. Along with his wife, Cath, he was a key member of the Events Committee and, last year, for example, he organised (with Cath) a number of 'Car Boot Sales' which brought valuable revenue to the project. Through his work as a Sales Representative, he was able to acquire, free of charge, valuable equipment to assist with our trackwork and even turned his hand to authorship for the benefit of the railway. His children's book, 'Bambles: the Platelayer's Puppy' (illustrated by Cath) was most generously funded entirely by Richie and Cath with all the proceeds going to the project.
On a regular basis, a group of us would go over to 'Locomtion' at Shildon to assist Anthony Coulls and his team with the Annual Steam / Diesel Gala's. Richie was always there, not just on the Saturday / Sunday when the event was being held, but also on the Friday when the hard work was done to set-up and for the Photo Charters which ran late into Saturday evening or started very early on the Sunday morning - I suspect wild horses wouldn't have kept him away! I well remember one Friday when Richie and colleagues spent the day repairing the cab floor on Gresley V2 4771 'Green Arrow' so that the public could spend the weekend safely visiting the footplate. He was also a fully qualified guard and was thus in demand throughout the weekend to assist on the passenger service - this is something he also did (with Cath) on the Bowes Railway.
So, Richie was very much an 'all-rounder' and a team player - the type of volunteer that no project of this nature would ever wish to lose let alone have them taken away at just 46 years of age. He will be greatly missed - not just by everyone at KSE, but his many other friends and colleagues throughout the railway preservation movement. Rest in peace mate.
The following tribute was written by James Redfern, the Head of our S&T Department who worked closely with Richie on many occasions:
''Funny things, preserved railways - some people join as volunteers, swiftly come and go - passing through the ranks almost unnoticed. Others, like Richard, stay on and help to make a difference and build a small part of themselves into the fabric of the railway. Richard did that and I'm very pleased to have met him. We're all from different backgrounds and often have very different views, but we work together towards a single aim and so we're a Band of Brothers. In that sense, Richard was a respected brother to me and I will miss seeing and hearing him around the place. Sleep easy Richard.
The Gallery below contains a selection of photos of Richie (courtesy of Alan Usher) taken over the last few years at KSE and during the Annual Steam / Diesel Gala's at 'Locomotion', Shildon.