Heritage Railways

Volunteering at the Ffestiniog Railway

If you didn’t know, I’m a volunteer videographer with the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. I’m officially part of the Moving Pictures team (I have a name badge and everything!).

How Did I Get Involved?

My volunteering journey came completely by chance. I posted a photo of the Tanygrisiau waterfall taken from the window of the train and one of the FR lot contacted me to as if I’d been trespassing (cheeky sod – I was on the train!!).

From that message we got talking and I was offered to tag along with the team at the first Bygones Weekend in 2020. The rest, as they say, is history. Almost three years on I’m part of the Moving Pictures Team and I couldn’t be happier.

My Volunteering Duties

As a videographer I pretty much turn up at events and point my GoPro at whatever is going on. I’d like to say it’s much more arty than that but my part really isn’t. The fantastic bits are done by the other two who operate the big camera (with the fancypants zoom function) and the drone. I’m more of the pickup shots and wide angle stuff.

I’ve also done a fair few onboard filming for example on the first train back to Blaenau Ffestiniog and recently some gravity train footage.

Costs

I use my own camera gear mostly – the GoPro I already had but I have bought memory cards which are pretty much used only to film trains these days. However the Railway have purchased some bits for example the mic and rig were purchased by the marketing department.

Main “cost” for me is me giving up my freetime. Personally I don’t see it as a cost because I bloody love it! Why? Because I love trains! But it’s more than that really…

Benefits

The volunteering I’ve done has opened me up to a community and fabulous experiences:

  • friends & community – I’ve been fortunate enough to find like minded people and it’s great! I’ve made friends with some awesome people. I always have fun when I’m out filming with the Team…. achy cheeks at the end of the day after all the laughing!
  • meeting the occasional celebrity like the ever enthusiastic Tim Dunn (who’s as nice in person as he is on telly)
  • free travel – as a volunteer I get to travel free of charge on the railway. That in itself is incredibly valuable.
  • sense of achievement – my volunteer duties involve pointing a camera at passing trains. I always thought my stuff was pretty amateur but when I see my footage edited into regular Moving Pictures videos I feel so proud! And to see my name being credited in the Year In The Life dvd for the last three years is just amazing! Gives me a real sense of pride.
  • fantastic experiences – the volunteering has opened up some absolutely fab experiences for me.
    • I’ve been able to travel on the gravity train which is usually reserved for VIPs
    • attended events such as the Baldwin 590 launch (which was reserved for invited guests and VIPs – who’d have thought I’d be one!)
    • I get to travel with the Team to various events around the country such as Statfold Barn, Warley Model Railway Show and the Narrow Gauge North Model Railway Show
    • I’m also due to attend the Eisteddfod for a few days when it comes to Boduan this year.
    • And of course there’s the infamous Welsh Pony tender ride from Porthmadog all the way to Blaenau Ffestiniog! (Have I mentioned it lately?)

How Can You Get Involved?

I consider myself to be exceptionally lucky to have somehow found myself here in all honesty… as I say it was pure chance! However if you want to volunteer at the railway there are plenty of things you can get involved in. Take a look at the Railway’s volunteering page for more information.

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