The Little Miracles story
Serendipity is a funny thing! A donation from Derby turned into a huge joint project. The person that fetched the donation has a grandson with cerebral palsy. The youngster loves watching trains. The club decided to donate a Flying Scotsman set to the lad who then, according to his parents, learned better motor control by making the train set work. That set Chairman Peter Davies thinking. A quick Google search found the Little Miracles charity. He and Bill Sowerby (Vice Chairman and Exhibition Manager) visited the charity and the project was born.
Initially, the project was the combination of two ideas; demonstrating the building of a layout from basic principles at the Peterborough Show; combining the parts of that project to form a layout for Little Miracles. That’s not how it turned out. With already close links and friendships with members of Sleaford Model Railway Club, the project started to take on a life of its own. And, thanks to the incredible generosity of BRM and Hornby, firm ideas for a portable layout were developed. Based on the idea of a folding table tennis table, Bill drew up the designs. Chris Richardson from Sleaford made a steel chassis on roller casters. Bill Sowerby developed an incredibly robust wooden, folding layout surface that would take any number of knocks and jolts without sending trackwork out of alignment. A large number of meetings were also held with BRM staff throughout the development as they were keenly interested and became involved in a practical way too.
During the Peterborough Show, men from Sleaford undertook the main layout build while others from Market Deeping built some scenic details (e.g. the Whomping Willow and the Philosopher’s Stone) while still others manned demonstration tables on model building, scenery construction, track laying and soldering. Howard and Phil from BRM undertook further design, marking out and making roadways, etc.
The layout is based on a Harry Potter theme. But, of course, considerable interest still exists for Thomas and his friends. Thanks to the generosity of several donors since the club’s disastrous exhibition in May 2019, a further presentation of Thomas stock will be made to Little Miracles in the New Year. This will have two benefits: enable those with limited dexterity to put four-wheeled (rather than twin bogie) coaches on the track; change the theme completely (other than for the main station and other buildings which are fixed). With a huge storage tray built into the steel chassis, storage space will not be a problem.
The Presentation to Little Miracles
With the layout completed only minutes before the show closed, it had to be stored until it could be presented at a time convenient for Little Miracles. Unfortunately, during that time, Bill had to travel to the States to be with family over Christmas so was unable to be present for something that he had masterminded. Tracy, Michelle and volunteers at Little Miracles had laid on a “spread” for everyone present. BRM filmed the layout for RM Web and lots of photos were taken. It was a joy to hand over the layout and see the youngsters congregate around it and start to use it.
Peter and Bill meet Sir Rod Stewart
Peter Davies and Bill Sowerby were invited down to London to be on The One Show with Sir Rod Stewart. During the interview, Peter managed to present Sir Rod with a framed certificate of Honorary Life Membership and a club sweatshirt emblazone with ' SIr Rod' in gold.