Train drivers based at Virgin Trains' Manchester depot are planning to raise thousands of pounds for children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent, with a special steam-hauled excursion train being the headline event.
CLIC Sargent, the supported charity of Virgin Trains, offers many types of care and support to children with cancer and their families.
Train operators, the wider rail industry and celebrities have already offered their support and it is planned that pop impresario and rail supporter Pete Waterman will flag the special train away on its journey.
The steam-hauled special train, hired from West Coast Railway Company, will run on October 1st 2011, will be formed of luxurious, 1950 designed first class coaches, and hauled by a steam locomotive built in 1927, named Scots Guardsman. The train will run from Crewe to Carlisle over the Cumbrian fells and returning on the scenic Settle and Carlisle line. Catering on the train will be provided by Gravy Train Catering, whose staffs have many years working in the rail catering sector. Passengers will be able to indulge in a full breakfast on the outward journey and a five course dinner on the return.
A very special item, exclusive to the appeal, is a commissioned painting by John Cowley, who is member of the Guild of Railway Artists. The scene, set in the Second World War, depicts children being evacuated waiting to board their train at Crewe station. Both the original oil painting and a series of signed, limited edition prints will be sold to raise funds for the appeal.
While the rail tour is the headline event, the organising team are running a raffle and auctioning items on eBay. The raffle prizes and auction items have been donated by many generous sponsors.
Auction items will be available on eBay from mid April and include exclusive items offered by the railway industry.
These 'must have' items include the opportunity to experience a day on highly realistic driver simulators belonging to Virgin Trains, First Capital Connect and TransPennine Express.
Raffle prizes include two standard flight tickets to New York, two First Class dining tickets for UK Orient Express Tours and an overnight stay for two at Lucknam Park Spa and Hotel in Bath.
The raffle will be drawn by one of the children supported by Clic Sargent in September in Manchester.