Virgin Trains’ Christmas campaign this year will see them painting the script of much-loved Christmas film It’s a Wonderful Life along the platforms at their stations along the West Coast Main Line.
The movie sees George Bailey contemplating ending his own life before his guardian angel Clarence shows him the impact that his good deeds have had over the years. In the same way, Virgin Trains is highlighting the good deed of some of their employees. From saving lives to rescuing reputations to just being there, take a look at some of their stories…
Gary, station manager for the Stafford and Liverpool Lime Street regions
People working at the stations have a tough job but Gary knows first-hand just how invaluable his role can be.
In November this year, he saw a woman who had walked onto the tracks at Liverpool Lime Street, into the path of an oncoming train. As hundreds of passengers looked on, Gary climbed down onto the tracks – he knew from his training with Rethink Mental Illness that it is important to be on the same level as the person you’re talking to – but now he was fearful for his own safety as well as hers.
She was carrying a knife and told Gary, “I just want to die.”
Knowing he needed to act quickly, Gary was able to stop the oncoming train and get the woman to put the knife away so he could speak to her. “I said, ‘We’ve all got problems.’ And I took her through a few options of support,” he explains. “She wasn’t having any of it at first, it was a long process. She felt everyone was against her in that moment. But I used my training and we agreed to both get off the tracks.”
They shook on the agreement that if one of them got off the tracks then the other would too – but she insisted that Gary went first. “Eventually,” he says, “I’m lifting her up, putting my arm around her and walking her past the crowds.”
He took her to the First Class lounge where they could talk quietly for a while.
This isn’t even the first time Gary’s saved someone’s life. He’s previously been awarded the Samaritans Lifesaver Award for rescuing another young woman at a Virgin Train station who had tried to take her own life.
Sarah, team leader for Rugby station
As team leader at Rugby station, Sarah takes pride in ensuring that every passenger and member of the Virgin Trains team who passes through her station receives the best service possible and walks away with a smile on their face.
She remembers one customer who had arrived on the 8am service into Rugby and ripped their tights getting off the train. She says that the woman looked flustered and when she found out that she was on her way to an important interview, Sarah rushed to Boots and grabbed her a new pair. “She sent me flowers in the end, said that I’d saved her bacon!”
Jane, train manager
As a first-aider at Virgin Trains, Jane was called to meet an incoming train. The train manager met her at the door to explain the situation: a woman was having a miscarriage on board.
“I immediately felt helpless. I got her an ambulance but it was a one hour wait,” she says. Jane sat with the woman while she waited, both of them were emotional. “I had to hold it together. She was from Scotland, so really far from home. I was terrified of saying the wrong thing or not saying enough.”
When the ambulance arrived, Jane and the passenger exchanged numbers and a few days later Jane heard that she had lost the baby and was alone in London. “I didn’t want her to have any fuss with getting tickets so I arranged for her to go First Class back to Glasgow,” Jane says. “I had flowers delivered to the house as well, just to let her know we were thinking of her. All I could do was sort her journey.
“Virgin Trains always supports doing the right thing. So although it didn’t feel like much, it was nice to know I could go the extra mile for her and have everyone behind me.”
Read more of the stories of Virgin Trains employees’ kindness on the Virgin Trains blog.