A COMMUNITY rail partnership that promotes the train line running through Northwich, Lostock Gralam, Greenbank, Delamere and Cuddington has won a national award.

The Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership, whose line runs from Chester to Manchester line, won the top prize at the National Community Rail Awards, held in the Riviera International Centre, Torquay on Friday, October 1.

It is the first time in the history of these national awards that a 'community rail partnership' alone has won the overall 'winner' trophy.

John Oates, chair of the Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership, said it was a big surprise to clinch the title.

“I am absolutely delighted with this award which was given for the outstanding delivery of our community rail strategy," he said.

"The top award, which we were all surprised to win, now establishes us as one of the leading community rail partnerships in the country.

"We are also very proud of the awards we received for Delamere Station and for the WW1 Commemoration. This demonstrates partnership working in action.

"The WW1 Award was given to Sally Buttifant, our Rail Officer and Matt Baker of Chester-based Theatre in The Quarter who together with the writer Helen Newall developed and toured ‘Over by Christmas’ last year.

"I would like to thank all those who volunteer for the Partnership, the funding partners and our rail officer, who made these awards happen.

"I also congratulate Sally on bringing home for Cheshire two awards for our Friends at Ellesmere Port Station.

"This is a record breaking achievement."

The judges said the award was for ‘highlighting so well the value of a community for partnership’.

The partnership has worked to improve the stations with volunteer groups and helped to achieve significant growth in passenger numbers on the line.

For their project to improve Delamere Railway Station with Pettypool College, the Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership won the Award for Involving Young People.

Sally Buttifant won, with Chester’s Theatre in the Quarter, the special award for WW1 Commemoration Projects, for their 'Over By Christmas' production, which visited stations in the area including Plumley and Goostrey.

This station-based project was performed 47 times in 2015, at 25 railway stations throughout Cheshire - and at St Pancras Station in London - and involved more than 400 volunteers and 1,250 school children. The judges described the impact of the project as ‘breath-taking’.

Sally Buttifant, Officer for the Partnership said: “We are thrilled to have won the overall award!

"A huge thank you to all the people we work with. Creative partnership working makes things happen across Cheshire.”