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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Thameslink station duo honoured in King’s birthday honours

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Two Thameslink station team members have been awarded British Empire Medals in the King’s Birthday Honours for their service to the railway.

One is 84-year-old Siggy Cragwell, Elstree & Borehamwood’s much-loved station assistant who, astonishingly, has worked on the railway for 62 years solid after coming to the UK from Barbados as part of the Windrush generation.

The other is Joe Healy, station manager at Luton Airport Parkway and Harpenden, who has set himself a mission to give people with special educational needs and disabilities greater confidence, encouraging them to use the railway and gain independence.

Thameslink’s oldest employee, Siggy, came to the UK in 1962, and has no plans to retire . He gets up at 4am to do the 6-11am shift and then does gym and Tai Chi to keep himself fit for cricket – which he has played at an international level, with 14 caps to his name for the senior side.

He has already won two lifetime achievement awards, one by popular vote from customers at Elstree & Borehamwood station, and will this Friday (21 June) be a guest of honour at the National Windrush Memorial service in London Waterloo station.

When he learned about his latest accolade, from King Charles, Siggy said: “I was shocked. I stopped and thought for a little bit, ‘Is that really for me?’ I thought, I can’t wait to tell my friends at the cricket club – they’ll go ballistic!”

Railway veteran Joe Healy, 49, has worked in the industry for more than 20 years. He is passionate about helping others and has for more than eight years organised ‘Try A Train’ days for Dunstable College, Bedford College and Autism Bedfordshire. These encourage people with special educational needs and disabilities to have the confidence to use the railway.

Joe said: “Everybody has a right to travel no matter what their disability. Why should we have somebody sitting at home thinking they can’t get out, they can’t travel because they’re too anxious or afraid, even to come to a train station? We need to break that down and if there’s anything I can do then I’m definitely going to do it.

“I also work with NOAH Enterprise in Luton to help disadvantaged individuals back into the world of work. I go to workshops and sit down and chat with people, find out about their situation, talk about my role as a station manager. I sometimes help them apply for jobs on the railway and do mock interviews to help them prepare.

“When I got this award, I was so surprised. To me, honestly, doing what I do on the railway is like a dream and then to be awarded this is like the icing on the cake. I never ever thought I’d be getting a BEM. It’s crazy!”

Jenny Saunders, Customer Services Director at Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “Siggy and Joe are simply amazing colleagues. The customer service they give our passengers is exemplary and they are role models for us all. They symbolise everything that is great about our railway family and this honour from the King is thoroughly well deserved. I’m thrilled for them both.”

Image credit: GWR

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