Community spirited Mike Fitzgerald spent the past 11 years working closely with schools along the Medway Valley and Swale lines and was behind setting up a popular music train – which played live music on board.
Now he has been honoured for his contribution at the Association of Community Rail Partnership (ACORP) Awards, which was held on Thursday 29 September.
Mike, a former Mayor of Maidstone, led the KCRP - which is funded by train operator Southeastern and Kent County Council – helping rail communities in Kent before stepping down from his role earlier this year.
At the special ceremony, which was held in Southport and attended by the Rail Minister, Paul Maynard, Mike was awarded a combined first place and lifetime achievement award for outstanding volunteer contribution.
During his time as chairman, Mike successfully gained funding for numerous projects and worked closely with a number of local schools, parishes and community groups.
He also pioneered the opening of the Snodland Community Garden and brought his vision of Pop-Up Community Information Hubs to life at various locations in the Kent region.
The music train ran last year on the Medway Valley Line with Kent band Coco and the Butterfields playing on board.
He also did much to publicise interesting places to visit along the Medway Valley Line and organised a ‘Discover the Medway Valley Line’ train.
Project Officer for the Kent Community Rail Partnership, Guy Schofield said: “Thanks to his energy, enthusiasm and expertise Mike has led the Partnership through a decade of success and built strong foundations for the long-term future of the Partnership and the SwaleRail and Medway Valley Lines which we promote. I’m delighted that he has achieved national recognition for his extraordinary contribution to Community Rail in Kent.”
Managing Director at Southeastern, David Statham said:”We cannot think of a more fitting person to receive this award. Mike has put a lot of hard work into making the Kent Community Rail Partnership the great success that it is today. He has been key to the vital work they have undertaken, and continue to do, and he is invaluable to theirs and our achievements within the community.”
Southeastern, which awarded the KCRP £120,000 at the beginning of its Direct Award contract, was also awarded for Charlton Community Gardens and the Elmstead Woods Gardening Club, which both received Gold certificates at the nationally recognised awards.