Bedford Station transports poppy wreath from RAF Henlow to London for Remembrance event

Thameslink has joined forces with The Veterans Charity on the nationwide ‘Routes of Remembrance’ campaign

By Laura Hutchinson
Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 2:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 2:48 pm

A wreath from RAF Henlow is on its way from Bedford Railway Station to London for a special Remembrance event.

Thameslink has joined forces with The Veterans Charity on the nationwide ‘Routes of Remembrance’ campaign, which sees poppy wreaths touring the country’s railway network to honour the fallen.

With many memorial events cancelled last year due to Covid-19, the rail operator is helping to keep Remembrance moving this year with poppy wreaths travelling on a number of services across its network.

Pictured left to right: Noel Hughes (Thameslink), Steve King (RAF Henlow) and Oliver Evans (RAF Henlow).

Officers from RAF Henlow visited Bedford Railway Station to send a wreath to London, to be laid with others at the annual memorial service at St Pancras International.

RAF Henlow is one of only five RAF stations that dates back to the First World War and is still in use today.

Leading the journey to safely transport the poppy wreath was Thameslink Driver, Noel Hughes, who spent six and a half years in the 216 Parachute Signal Squadron, part of the British Army's Royal Corps of Signals.

He left the Armed Forces and initially pursued a career in the police before joining Thameslink in 2016 as a trainee train driver.

Railway colleagues were joined at Bedford station today by officers from nearby RAF Henlow to help transport a poppy wreath into London.

When he heard about the Routes of Remembrance campaign, Noel, 45, was keen to offer his help.

He said: “Thousands of people sacrificed and continue to sacrifice their lives for our country and it’s important that we continue to honour our veterans. I’m proud to be taking our poppy wreath into London today in memory of our fallen heroes.”

The railway is remembering the 100,000 railway workers who were enlisted to help the war efforts. By the end of the First World War, 20,000 had sadly lost their lives.

Bernie Lee, Thameslink Station Manager at Bedford station, said: “The railway played a crucial part in WWI and WWII, not only moving equipment and rations around the country, but transporting healthy and wounded troops too.

Pictured left to right: Oliver Evans (RAF Henlow), Noel Hughes (Thameslink Driver), Tony Kemp (RAF veteran) and Councillor Jane Walker (Bedford Borough Council).

"Bedfordshire is home to various former and current RAF stations, so it made sense to begin our poppy wreath’s journey at Bedford station.

“It was an honour to be joined by RAF Henlow to mark the Routes of Remembrance campaign and pay tribute to all those who lost their lives fighting for our country. It’s important that we continue to remember our veterans and as well as memorial services across our network, we will also be observing the two-minute silence at stations and on-board trains on Armistice Day.”

Wing Commander William Andrew, Station Commander RAF Henlow, added: “It is a privilege for RAF Henlow to play a part in the important Routes of Remembrance campaign.

"As we honour those who have made the ultimate sacrifice across all the Armed Forces from WWI to today, it is fantastic to see the contribution the local community are making to support Remembrance.”

Wreath-laying ceremonies and memorial services will take place with Southern, Great Northern and Thameslink colleagues at Victoria, St Pancras, Brighton and Kings Cross stations.

To raise awareness of the Routes of Remembrance campaign, Govia Thameslink Railway is also displaying information screens at every one of its stations.