On July 18th the Dean of Coventry Cathedral (Very Rev’d John Witcombe) and his wife Ricarda visited the Talyllyn railway whilst on holiday in the area. Ricarda is Chaplain of the George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton. Dean Witcombe travelled on the footplate of Loco No. 2 Dolgoch from Wharf station to Nant Gwernol and back (a round trip of 15 miles.) He is a railway and model railway enthusiast and really enjoyed his journey even though it was rather warm on the footplate!
The visit was arranged by Rev’d Nigel Adams – a retired priest who lives in Tywyn. He and his wife Celia, also a priest have been volunteering for over 30 years.
The connection with Coventry Cathedral is that Nigel and Celia were both ordained Deacon there in 1988 and subsequently ordained priest there too. On July 1st they were both at the ordination there to support Rev’d Liz Harris who was ordained priest and serves in the Caludon Team Ministry where Nigel and Celia worked in the 1990s. Their son, Justin, who is churchwarden at Holy Cross Wyken in that Team Ministry has also been a T. R. volunteer for 35 years. When Nigel moved to be Vicar of St. Mary’s Abbey on Nuneaton in 1997 Celia became Assistant Chaplain at the George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton. She and Nigel are both still very active in their retirement in the diocese of Bangor and regularly take services. In fact, Nigel is in his second term as an Area Dean in the Archdeaconry of Merioneth.
Dean Witcombe and Ricarda thoroughly enjoyed their visit to the Talyllyn Railway and John said, “Visiting the Talyllyn was to fulfil a lifelong ambition. As the first of the re-birthed narrow gauge steam railways, it is incredibly well known, and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get there. I was overwhelmed by the team’s hospitality and the experience of riding on the footplate was an amazing experience. Driving a train is not a case of brute force – it’s an incredibly subtle task of teasing the controls to work with a beautiful but ancient and sensitive piece of engineering to pull us through the beautiful countryside. The team work of John driving and Martin as fireman was a great example of practical co-operation. There’s a surprising amount to do, and they were much too busy to talk to me on the up journey, but a but more relaxed coming back down the hill to Tywyn. All in all it reminded me of the Cathedral for which I’m responsible: we also exist to take people on a journey, though it’s a journey of meaning rather than through the country. We are also very well known, and loved for our heritage as well as our story, and rely heavily on a large team of dedicated volunteers. We are on many people’s lists of places they really should get to one day – so i just want to encourage you to visit us both. You won’t be disappointed!”