Published: 7th July 2014
Roy Watts, a Bluebell Railway volunteer for 46 years and chairman of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society since 1999, was appointed a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in The Queen’s 2014 Birthday Honours List.
The award to one of preservations ‘Mr Nice Guys’ is in recognition of his services to the Heritage Railway movement and preservation. In addition to his dedication to the Bluebell in West Sussex, many heritage lines have benefited from Roy’s help, advice and guidance. This has included applying his experience to assist other preservation projects on a wide range of issues including organisational structure, rules, grant applications, and capital projects.
He even arranged for a Somerset and Dorset 7F 2-8-0 to spend a day in its former home station, now a Sainsbury's car park in Bath (Green Park) - possibly assisted by his day-job employed by J Sainsbury PLC.
In addition to railway interests, Roy is involved with three cherished former London Transport buses, RM811, RML2731, and RT3775 – and has a family life at his home in Coulsdon, Surrey!
The most recent triumph for the Bluebell Railway was finally achieving its long-held ambition of opening the Northern Extension to East Grinstead – which in turn gave the heritage line a connection to the national network – in March 2013. Roy simultaneously ceased his role of station master at the previous Kingscote terminus and took up the new position of East Grinstead station master!
Speaking to www.rail.co.uk Roy confirmed he was thrilled, overwhelmed and humbled by the recognition he had received – both the award and the reaction as the news started to spread. “I was completely knocked back when I heard about the nomination,” Roy confirmed. “I do not do things for the recognition, but it is rewarding for me and the railway.”
Dick Fearn, Chairman of the Bluebell Railway PLC, said he was absolutely delighted that Roy had received such an acknowledgement for his tireless contribution not just to the Bluebell Railway but to other players in the Heritage Sector. “I know I can speak for the other members of the railway in saying, what stunning recognition for such a deserving person."