Food delivery champion Emma Hurrell

GWR train name fame for food delivery champion and fancy dress runner

BBC and Great Western Railway celebrate Make a Difference Superstars

Two community heroes from Gloucestershire who selflessly helped others at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic are to have their names featured on the side of a Great Western Railway train.

Food delivery champion Emma Hurrell and fancy-dress runner Martin Heath have been chosen as BBC Make a Difference Superstars.

The pair were selected by judges following a link-up between the BBC and train operator GWR to celebrate those community heroes who have been going above and beyond during the pandemic.

Now plans are being made for their names to be added to either end of a high-speed Intercity Express Train. 

Emma works at the Long Table social enterprise initiative in Brimscombe, near Stroud, providing healthy ready meals for the people of Gloucestershire.

She and her team could have easily decided to go on furlough at the outbreak of the pandemic, but instead created the Feeding the Five Thousand campaign, delivering 40,000 meals across the county, with 80 per cent of these being given out free. They fed NHS frontline workers, people in homeless shelters, those on low incomes and people who were shielding or quarantining.  

Martin Heath running man

Marathon effort: Martin Heath 

Martin, dubbed the Mitcheldean Running Man, clocked up a total of 440 miles over 101 days, raising community spirits by running in a different fancy-dress costume every day.

More than 300 villagers turned out to cheer him on for his last run and he was even given a police escort. Martin’s gruelling efforts helped raise £840 for Muscular Dystrophy UK and £1,390 for Great Oaks Hospice Forest of Dean. 

Parents praised his efforts for giving their children something to look forward to during uncertain times, while older members of the community said he had eased their feelings of isolation.

GWR Interim Managing Director Matthew Golton said:  

“The GWR has a long and proud history of naming trains after Great Westerners – past and present heroes from across our network – and to that list now we can add the names of Emma Hurrell and Martin Heath.

“It has been a privilege to partner with the BBC Make a Difference campaign and learn more about people like Emma and Martin, who have helped to make such a huge difference in their communities during the pandemic. 

“Listening to BBC local radio we were particularly overwhelmed by the stories of these two winners and I hope our train-naming ceremonies will serve as a fitting tribute to them.”

BBC Gloucester was one of nine local radio stations to team up with GWR and the names of 18 Make a Difference Superstars will adorn its high-speed trains. 

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: 

“I have been blown away by the efforts of all the Covid-19 heroes during the course of the pandemic. Their dedication and compassion has been truly heart-warming, and made a huge difference in their communities. 

“These trains will be a lasting reminder of all those who have gone the extra mile to keep this country going.”

Stephanie Marshall, head of the BBC in the West and South West, said: 

“The pandemic may have been the worst of times for many of us, but it has brought out the best in so many people.

“Since lockdown began nearly two million listeners have contacted their BBC local radio station either looking for help, or in many cases offering it out through the Make a Difference campaign. 

“The stories of local heroism have helped put a smile on faces across the country and I’m incredibly proud that our local radio teams played a part in that.”

With more people starting to use trains again operators are reminding passengers to: 

  • plan ahead – travel at quieter times where they can, buy a ticket online and in advance, and book ahead if you need travel assistance
  • consider others – wear a face covering unless you’re exempt, not travelling if you have Covid symptoms and consider others, not all disabilities can be seen
  • stay safe – maintaining your distance wherever possible; wash your hands and carry hand sanitiser, paying contactless where you can

GWR has been providing rail services throughout the pandemic and has worked to ensure that these are as safe as possible. This includes increased cleaning regimes and the use of a virucidal spray; extra staff at key stations to offer help and guidance; and processes in place to help customers maintain a safe distance where possible such as restricting the number of reservations available.  

Notes to editors 
Great Western Railway (GWR) provides high speed, commuter, regional and branch line train services. We help over 100 million passengers reach their destinations every year - across South Wales, the West Country, the Cotswolds, and large parts of Southern England. 

We’re currently seeing the biggest investment in the network since Brunel so we can offer more trains, more seats, and shorter, more frequent journeys and continue the network’s heritage of helping connect more businesses to new and prosperous markets. Through a series of initiatives we aim to be a good neighbour to the communities we serve and are committed to making a positive social impact in those regions. Learn how we're Building a Greater West at GWR is a FirstGroup company.

Contact Information

James Davis

Media Relations Manager

Great Western Railway

0845 410 4444

07703 890 711