SAYLSA hold fun day to show off rail partnership status

James Cassidy and Alison Ronald show off the 1906 postcard as Richard Carr from SAYLSA tells the story.

James Cassidy and Alison Ronald show off the 1906 postcard as Richard Carr from SAYLSA tells the story.

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A community rail partnership group held a fun day at Girvan station on Friday as part of their seventh birthday celebrations.

SAYLSA, which is the community rail partnership for Carrick and Wigtownshire also used the event to promote its designated community rail partnership status.

That status was finally given to SAYLSA in June this year by Transport Minister Keith Brown after SAYLSA’s years of campaigning for improvements on the Ayr-Stranraer line.

Friday 12th September marked SAYLSA’s seventh birthday and they invited along politicians, Scotrail employees as well as some very special guests to join in the day.

The event began with John McCutcheon, SAYLSA’s chairman showcasing the impact that the group have had on the Ayr- Stranraer service over the last seven years.

He highlighted the double digit increase the line enjoyed in passengers in 2012/13.

“In 2012/13, thanks to the work of SAYLSA, this line was the best performing line in Scotland with an increase of 10.7% in passengers, which was the only rural line to see a double digit increase,” he said.

The group had invited along the children from the Sacred Heart Choir as well half a dozen solo female singers from the Ayr choral union to perform “The Saylsa Hymn.”

Backed by the majestic piping of Andrew Nichol of Galloway Pipes and Drums, the choir sang their hearts out to the Linking Lands of Scots and Gaels which praised the Ayr-Stranraer line through its lyrics.

After the singing had finished it was time for the Burns Line plaque to be re-dedicated. which was done by Hugh Knapp, brother of Jimmy Knapp the former General Secretary of the RMT Union.

Jimmy had been instrumental in the setting up of service between Girvan, Kilmarnock and Ayr in 1996 and Hugh commented that his late brother would be extremely proud of the work done by SAYLSA to protect the line.

Then came a unique presentation between James Cassidy of Girvan Academy and Alison Ronald of Carrick Academy in Maybole.

SAYLSA development manager Richard Carr had recently discovered a postcard that had been sent from Girvan station by James Bowman in 1906 to a girl in Maybole called Elizabeth Wilson who he ended up marrying.

They were keen to recreate this moment at the fun day on Friday and thanks to teachers Ellen Aitken at Girvan Academy and Jonathan Rusk at Carrick Academy it was pulled off.

A new postcard showcasing Girvan station in 2014 was presented by Girvan student James Cassidy to Carrick student Alison Ronald with a message on it saying he hoped she was enjoying her day. SAYLSA then surprised the two youngsters with free tickets to travel anywhere in Scotland as a reward for being such good sports.