Kent & East Sussex Railway announce appointment of Simon Marsh as new Chairman

Simon Marsh has been appointed as the new Chairman of the Kent & East Sussex Railway Board of Directors. Simon has been associated with the railway for over forty years in a very wide range of tasks.

As well as the knowledge gained from all his volunteering at the Tenterden-based railway, the 61- year-old brings the skills acquired during his years as a senior civil servant (he is now retired).

“Life and people skills”, he says. “It’s all about the people. Also the ability to analyse and plan, and to think strategically and outside the box.”

His priority is to develop a vision and strategy that will allow the railway to flourish in an increasingly challenging environment. “Working together, maintaining the unique friendliness of the KESR and the passion of all who are involved”.

It is tough for all of us in the heritage railway world. “Visitor expectations increase year on year and we are subject to a lot more regulation than we used to be.  Together these mean that we must be even more professional in the way we go about our business. And it is a business – we currently attract nearly 100,000 visitors and turn over more than £2 million per year.

Simon lives at Sandwich with his wife Sandra, who is a priest. They have three grown-up children, one of whom is a volunteer driver on the KESR, and Simon is conscious of the need to encourage young helpers. “We currently have a surprisingly large number of really good young people.  We could always do with more – after all they are our future. Perhaps we should be better at getting across the message that volunteering on the railway is not only fun, it develops life and technical skills too, as well as the opportunity to take responsibility.”

Maintaining the enthusiasm of the hundreds of unpaid enthusiasts who keep the railway running is a key task. “We must ensure that everyone feels that they are valued and part of the KESR family,” Simon says. “Among other things, this requires good two-way communication, quality training where appropriate, and providing opportunities to do things that wouldn’t be possible in the day job.”

“We have a huge range of ways of being involved, to suit all ages, preferences and abilities.  You can commit to several days a year, or several days a week.”

When did he start his interest in railways?

“I’m told that as a baby I reacted to passing trains from my pushchair. I think it must be in the blood,he admits.

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