New faces in Severn Valley Railway’s management team

7th November 2012

AMONG recent arrivals at the Severn Valley Railway’s Bewdley station are two new faces in the Railway’s management team – Clare Gibbard, who has taken up the post of Marketing & Communications Manager, and Chris Bond, who has been appointed SVR Infrastructure Manager.

Clare, whose formative years - like those of the railway - were in Bridgnorth where she now lives once more, has joined the SVR after five years as UK Marketing Manager for the Japanese Mitsubishi Pencil Co, better known by its market-leading trade name, Uni-ball.

She has taken over the reigns held for the past two years by SVR Visitor Services Manager David Mee, who assumed responsibility for marketing matters following the death of former SVR Marketing Manager John Leach in July 2010.

Clare, whose husband Simon is a lifelong railway enthusiast and a trainee guard on the 16-mile Kidderminster - Bridgnorth steam heritage line, and whose four-year-old son Isaac is also a budding steam enthusiast, lists amongst her priorities a desire to develop a clearer understanding of who the railway’s audiences are and how best to connect with them, and also to raise the SVR’s profile as a national tourist attraction, by maximising on publicity.

Chris Bond from Highley arrives in the SVR Infrastructure Manager’s chair following the retirement of long-serving Phil Sowden, formerly the railway’s Chief Engineer and a devoted volunteer on the line since his teenage days.

Chris, who worked for BT for 28 years before taking voluntary redundancy in 2008, comes from a similar mould to his predecessor. He started as a volunteer on the Railway at Bewdley in 1977, was part of the team which helped create the new terminus station at Kidderminster (opened in 1984), and has been a volunteer steam locomotive driver on the SVR for 23 years.

Married with two daughters, Chris describes his motivation as “the challenge of keeping the SVR’s track, bridges, viaducts and buildings in the best condition possible to allow the railway to continue forward as a premier preserved railway.”

He will be heavily involved too in the upcoming major redevelopment of Bridgnorth station as a visitor centre, and will oversee a major project to re-roof the Railway’s Kidderminster Carriage Works. He has been full-time on the SVR since 2008 as a Carriage Restorer at Bewdley.