We’re so proud of the amazing and often difficult things that our staff help others with, and go through themselves. Whether that’s demonstrating how to be more forthcoming with your feelings, saving a life, or just holding someone’s hand as they go through something.


Gary


Gary knows first-hand how invaluable station teams can be when it comes to saving lives.


In November of 2018, he spotted a woman out of the corner of his eye. She’d walked onto the tracks at Liverpool Lime Street, into the path of an oncoming train. In front of hundreds of passengers, Gary got down onto the tracks – knowing from his training with Rethink Mental Illness that it’s important to be on the same level as the person you’re talking to – now fearing for his own safety as well as hers. The woman, who had a knife, told Gary, “I just want to die.”


Gary knew he needed to act quickly and, after seeing him stop the oncoming train and get down onto the tracks, she put the knife away.


“I said, ‘we’ve all got problems’. And I took her through a few options of support. She wasn’t having 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.”


The two shook hands and made an agreement that if one of them got off the tracks, the other would as well. “’You go first,' she told me. Eventually, I’m lifting her up, putting my arm around her and walking her past the crowds.” The two sat in the quiet of the First Class lounge and talked for a while.


“It’s been a tough couple of weeks for me, since. I couldn’t get her out of my head.”


This wasn’t even Gary’s first brush with saving lives, and he previously won the Samaritans Lifesaver Award for rescuing a young woman at another of our stations who had tried to take her own life.


Gary is one of our station managers for the Stafford and Liverpool Lime Street regions.



Jane


Jane was called to an incoming train as a first-aider. The Train Manager was there waiting for her at the door to explain the situation. A woman was having a miscarriage onboard.


“I immediately felt helpless. I got her an ambulance, but it was a one hour wait.” Jane sat with the woman, both of them incredibly 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 say enough.”


When the ambulance finally came, Jane asked to take her number. And just a couple of days later, she text letting Jane know that she’d lost the baby. She 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. 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 support 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.”


The woman referred to Jane as one of the "kindest people she has ever met”. We’re inclined to agree.



Hayley


As part of her role of customer service advisor, Hayley meets customers from all walks of life in the food and refreshments carriage. Once she started speaking with a customer who was on his way to Preston from London as his partner had just gone into labour.


After finding out that he was still waiting to hear back from the person picking him up, she tracked him down via the train Tannoy system to find out if he had a plan. And, on discovering he hadn’t, Hayley waited on the platform for the customer, convincing him to eventually accept a lift from her so he could get to the hospital in time to witness the birth of his baby Harley.



Eamonn


As a mental health advocate, Eamonn is the natural ‘go-to’ person at the depot for people to sound out any issues they might be facing in their personal and professional lives.


“You can’t solve that person’s problem, but you can listen and help them. A lot of the drivers find it hard to talk.”


During his time in this role, he’s supported many drivers who’ve been involved in fatalities. Inevitably this is the toughest part of their job but Eamonn handles it all with care, professionalism and kindness.


“If you walk down the corridor with a broken arm, people open the door for you. You walk about with a broken head and nobody can see it, and even if they can, they don’t know how to help.”


Having experienced mental health issues himself, Eamonn chooses to manage these through helping others, medical support and writing poetry. He knows how hard coping can be.


“I chat to drivers immediately after fatalities. You can’t go home and share that with your family. But there’s a free number for counselling for Virgin Trains employees and we all pitch in. Maybe not directly asking about it, but just an extra ‘You alright?’ It makes a difference.”


Eamonn is the driver depot manager for the Manchester region.



Sarah


A customer, coming off the 8am train into Rugby, ripped their tights. They looked flustered and, after finding out that they were on their way to an important job interview, Sarah dashed into Boots to grab the customer a new pair.


“She sent me flowers in the end, said that I’d saved her bacon!”


Sarah is the team leader for Rugby and ensures every passenger and member of the Virgin Trains team that passes through the station gets the best service possible, walking away from a great experience with a smile on their face.



Hussain


Working at the Customer Service kiosk in Preston, Hussain has got to know lots of our brilliant customers over the years. Especially one in particular. A woman who travelled two hours by train to visit her brother who was battling cancer in a London hospital. “I saw her every week for a year and a half. And then, he started to deteriorate and eventually passed away. We’d got to a personal level; she’d come to the station a couple of hours before her train with biscuits, we’d have a tea, I’d chat to her and calm her down if she got upset…”


The two exchanged numbers and even wrote letters to each other to stay in touch. “I invited her round to mine for Christmas – I don’t celebrate it, but it’s not a time to be without family. She lived alone. It didn’t feel like me helping her – she made me happier, and really appreciate things.”


The woman still sends Hussain ‘thank you’ cards to show appreciation for the time he gave her and kindness he showed her.


Then, last year on Halloween, a man died. “After we’d cleared all the passengers, I went back and found one young lad dressed up for Halloween, curled up on a bench. It was freezing, so I had him come to the office, switched off my radio and made him a tea while the others were phoning for assistance.”


The station all team worked together when it happened. And afterwards, Hussain encouraged them all to talk about the incident and how they were feeling. “We have to comfort each other, to counteract the negative of what’s happened.”


Hussain is the customer service associate at Preston train station.



Back to News

Related posts:

Getting and giving help at Christmas

How much free time do you really have?

Edinburgh Foodie Guide

Millennial railcards for 26 to 30 year olds