The Gainsborough Model Railway Society’s first open day of its 70th anniversary year will be held in sombre mood following the recent death of two stalwart members of the Society.
Paul Ruff from Lincoln joined the Society 10 years ago and quickly became a key member of the society’s team willing to help with any task that needed doing, from operating a signalbox to cutting the grass around the building before an open day.
“Paul really found his niche when we had a new ceiling installed six years ago,” said Society chairman Chris Wragg.
“As part of that work the whole railway had to be covered in scaffolding, and inevitably there was a lot of dust and disruption when it was uncovered.
“Paul started tidying up the scenery and basically just never stopped.
“He also became a member of the committee and his death in February leaves a big gap.”
Less than a fortnight after Paul passed away came the death of Mick Clapham, the Society’s secretary for more than 40 years.
“Mick was one of the first generation of schoolboys to join the Society after its formation in 1946,” said Chris, “but unlike the rest he never left.
“He had been a vital part of the Society for as long as any of the other members can remember, and many people locally will remember the part he played in organising the Society’s railtours in the 60s, 70s and 80s, which included haulage by famous engines like Flying Scotsman and Mallard.
“At the club he could turn his hand to most things that needed doing, and the engines which he built are some of our best runners, even after many years service.
“His death has come as a great shock to us all, as even though he was in hospital in February, he had seemed to be recovering and was actually down at the clubrooms the evening before his death.
“Both Paul and Mick were the epitome of the hard-working and selfless member which any voluntary organisation needs to survive and they leave a huge gap in our ranks.
“Obviously our thoughts are with their families at this difficult time.”
In a happier vein, the Society is planning a reunion of former members in July.
Many people have been members of the Society over the last 70 years and inevitably they have lost touch with some of them.
Any ex-members who have not had an invite can either e-mail Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Vice-Chairman Richard Woods on 01427 615367 for further details.
The model railway, which has half-a-mile of track and needs at least ten people to operate it, will be open to the public over the Easter weekend at the clubrooms in Florence Terrace, close to Gainsborough’s Tesco superstore.
Opening times are Saturday March 26 and Sunday March 27 from 1.30pm to 6pm and on Monday March 28, from 10.30am to 6pm.
Admission is £4 for adults and £3 for children and senior citizens, with a family ticket for £10.