Published: 7th September 2016
A low key but hugely appropriate and moving naming ceremony was held at the Network Rail (NR) High Output Operations Base (HOOB) in Swindon on 31 August. The ceremony was in memory of 28 year old Gavin Roberts who worked on the Great Western electrification project for NR who died driving northbound on the A34 on the way to work a nightshift at Moreton cutting on 11 June, when a car crossed the central reservation and collided with him.
Gavin was an Australian who moved to Swindon from Dapto, New South Wales in Australia, earlier this year. was a construction manager on the the High Output Plant system (HOPs) electrification train and a very popular member of any team he worked in. He was airlifted to hospital in Oxford by the Thames Valley air ambulance in an attempt to save his life.
One of the fleet of NR’s HOPs electrification units was named Gavin Roberts by the NR Chief Executive Mark Carne who invited Gavin’s girlfriend Meg Williamson to inspect the nameplate. And she created a very emotional moment as she ran her hand across the nameplate bringing absolute silence to the gathering.
Replica nameplates were presented to Gavin’s colleagues on behalf of his family back in Australia who have also been sent one. The ceremony was conducted by Bristol Railway Chaplain Alan Thorpe who invited Mark Carne to unveil the nameplate.
Phil Price from Keltbray presented a cheque to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance after raffling three pairs of tickets for balloon rides at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta in their company hot-air balloon.
The Thames Valley Air Ambulance said that the donation will be put towards a (road) driving simulator which will hopefully make roads safer in memory of Gavin. A wish that all present at the ceremony endorsed.
Gavin was praised during Organ Donation Week (Sept 5 to 11) by the NHS as seven of his organs helped save the lives of others made possible as he was a registered donor. Anthony Clarkson, Assistant Director of Organ Donation and Nursing at NHS Blood and Transplant for his impact following his death.
“Gavin’s donation is a wonderful gift, and his family should take great pride and comfort from knowing Gavin has transformed the lives of others.
“We hope his generosity will inspire more people to talk to those close to them about donation. By joining the organ donation register and letting others know about your decision, you too can save lives."
Chief executive for Network Rail, Mark Carne, said: “It is clear from the reaction of family, friends and colleagues just how special Gavin was to many people. It seems that he touched the lives of all that met him and it seems right to commemorate him by naming the very train he worked on.
“I hope that the Gavin Roberts train will help further keep the memory of him alive and it recognises the work and impact he had on everyone connected with Network Rail.”
Gavin’s line manager, Jim Rollo, said: “Gavin was a larger than life character and made friends wherever his travels took him.
“He took some of the newer members of the team under his wing and not only shared with them his extensive overhead line equipment knowledge; he also helped them grow in confidence within their role.
“Gavin’s family and partner Meg remember him as ‘the Gavin that keeps on giving’. Gavin was only with us for five months but was loved by all and he will always be part of our team.”
Gavin’s girlfriend Meg Williamson and his closest friends Yuga Balakrishna and David Brockie were presented with a replica nameplate to mark the occasion as prayers and some of Gavin’s favourite songs were played.
The Gavin Roberts HOPs train is only the second to be named, the other was named Brunel, after the great engineer, at a ceremony in June 2014, by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23. Share your decision with your friends, using hashtag #YesIDonate