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The Friends of the Far North Line
Cairdean Na Loine Tuath
the campaign group for rail north of Inverness - lobbying for improved services for the local user, tourist and freight operator

New Committee Appointments

The following are pen pictures of the 2 new appointments made to the committee at the AGM:

Membership Secretary

As some of you would have been aware, our vice-president, Frank Spaven had indicated that he wished to relinquish his duty of Membership Secretary. In response to our advertisement for volunteers we received two applications. After debate in a committee meeting it was decided to ask those present at the AGM to elect Angus Stewart to the post.

Angus Stewart was born, and has lived in, St. Andrews for most of his life. His lifelong passion for railways was nurtured at a very early age by frequent visits with his mother to St. Andrews station, resulting in many trips on the footplate as the locomotive ran round its train for the return trip to Leuchars. As his mother came from the Isle of Iona there were many family trips to the island by train via Glasgow to Oban then ferry to Mull, bus to Fionnphort and finally motorboat! This fostered an interest in the Highlands of Scotland as a whole and its railways. Days of scouting/scout leadership led to trips on many, now closed lines and expeditions to the Highlands. After marriage and the ownership of a car many less accessible areas were explored countrywide.

On a trip to reconnoitre the caravan site at Brora a night was spent at Rogart in Frank Roach's converted coach which led to an introduction to the Friends of the Far North Line. As his particular interest is current railfreight, visits to Inverness/Fort William and all points on the lines North feature frequently on his itinerary.

Angus is also a very keen railway modeller with a special interest in Austrian/German models. He is current secretary of Glenrothes Model Railway Club which participates in many railway exhibitions and is a past president and secretary of St. Andrews Railway and Transport Society.

So, there's the person behind the title of Membership Secretary and let's hope you keep him extremely busy with your renewals and the introductions of new members! Well, I can but dream!

Dr. Stewart Campbell

Some of you may remember that Dr. Stewart Campbell has already served one term as a committee member and to bring you up to date I have included a 'pen picture' of his background and interest in railways.

Railways are in his blood. One of his earliest sound memories is of the nightly unfitted scrap metal train to Glengarnock Steel Works which always ran out of steam on the incline outside his house in the late forties. The Station was the hub of the community. He could hear the signal dropping -time to finish breakfast and run.

He came by train to Alness for his interview as a G.P. 25 years ago from which he has only just retired. That day he could not believe his luck in coming to such a beautiful place with its reopened railway station. The journey back to Dingwall on a May evening with the deep blue of the sky and the Firth made him think that he was in Paradise. He still thinks that, and the trains still run!

He soon found himself attending the Alness Community Association and with help managed to get the local bus to call at the Railway Station at train times. They also got 50 signatures of people who would support a Commuter Train! That was 25 years ago. The station became vandalised and was burned down and Beeching marched across the land with his brand of corporate vandalism. Those were the Dark Days.

The sun is however shining once again. He is now a volunteer Sustrans Ranger-for the Dingwall to Alness section, part of Route 1, from Harwich to Shetland. The railway of his childhood memories is now part of National Cycle Network Route 7 from Inverness to Dover. It has not been difficult for him to enthusiastically combine his love of railways with his love of cycling and walking.

Stewart has now retired, earlier than intended and hopes to make a contribution to the health of the community by promoting exercise and sustainable transport particularly by encouraging 'joined up' travel on foot, by bicycle, train, bus, plane ferry and taxi. His ambitions include seeing hordes of people walking and cycling to catch the Tain Commuter Train, many more lorry loads transferred from the A9 to the railway and crowds of tourists coming North by train to walk and cycle.