Heritage Railway Association

Board Members

Passion. Experience. Diligence.


Brian Simpson OBE

Vice Chairman
Mark Smith

Company Secretary
Peter Ovenstone

Finance Director
Ian Leigh

Bill Hillier

Chris Smyth


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President & Directors of the Heritage Railway Association

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Lord Richard Faulkner

Richard Faulkner is an active working peer and deputy speaker of the Lords who takes a passionate interest in the railway and railway heritage. He has been president of the HRA since February 2011, and is a former chairman of the Railway Heritage Committee, serving until his ministerial appointment in the government whips’ office in the House of Lords as Lord-in-Waiting and deputy transport spokesman.


Following the 2010 election, he was reappointed to the board of trustees of the National Museum of Science and Industry (now the Science Museum Group), and is chairman of the new Railway Heritage Designation Advisory Board. Following a long but ultimately successful campaign by Lord Faulkner, the board took over the statutory designation powers of the Railway Heritage Committee on 1st April 2013, following abolition of the Railway Heritage Committee under the government’s Public Bodies Act. His Science Museum responsibilities also include the chairmanship of the advisory board of Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry, which has recently come within the Science Museum Group family of museums.

 Richard’s involvement with the railway goes back very many years. His father left school at 14 to work as a clerk on the Great Western Railway in Birmingham, and his great-grandfather was top-link driver on the GWR, based latterly at Old Oak Common. Richard worked at the British Railways Board headquarters as a communications adviser to successive BR chairmen, starting with Sir Peter Parker. He is co-author of “Holding The Line – How Britain’s Railways Were Saved”, which was published by Ian Allan to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Beeching Report. 

He is president of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group, and a member of the First Great Western advisory board.

 In Parliament, Richard is treasurer of the all-party railways group, and vice-chairman of the new rail heritage group. He has led a successful campaign in the Lords to persuade the government to tackle the crime of metal theft, which has reached epidemic proportions, with the heritage and national railways particular victims. Largely as a result of his efforts, the law has been changed to outlaw the use of cash in settling transactions for the sale of scrap metal.

He is a graduate of Oxford University, and lives in London and Worcester.


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Brian Simpson OBE


Brian has been Chairman of HRA since 1st June 2014

Brian was Chairman of the European Parliament's Transport and Tourism Committee and a Member of European Parliament   for North West England until standing down as a MEP in May 2014.

His hobbies, apart from heritage railways, include rugby league (he is a keen Wigan fan), football (Blackburn Rovers and St. Mirren) and the American Civil War. He was born in Leigh, Lancashire and is married to Linda. He has three children and one grandchild.

E-Mail:                        brian.simpson@hra.uk.com


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Mark Smith


Mark represents heritage railways at UK Inbound and the British Tourism Development Committee and has taken a special interest in assessing the economic impact of tourism. He assists a number of railway members with business advice, and regularly acts as mediator to help resolve disputes and difficulties. He serves on the Association's committees responsible for Training & Education, Operating & Safety and Legal & Parliamentary Affairs as a lay representative.

Trained as a teacher, and with a lifelong interest in Railways, Mark was invited to join the Board of the West Somerset Railway in 1986. Two years later he was appointed managing director and under his guidance the Railway became profitable, visitor numbers rose from 90k to their current 225k per annum, it has been voted Independent Railway of the Year on three occasions and has secured substantial investment of European funds to support its on-going development.

In 2006 Mark resigned from this executive role for personal reasons. In October 2008, he returned to the Railway as Chairman of the Board, but now serves as a non-executive director.

E-Mail:                        mark.smith@hra.uk.com

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Company secretary

Peter Ovenstone


Peter is HRA Company Secretary; Chairman, Heritage Committee; Chairman Scottish Committee & Member of Legal & Parliamentary Affairs Committee.

Outside the HRA, he is a member of the Railway Heritage Designation Advisory Board (RHDAB). This body took over from the former Railway Heritage Committee on 1st April 2013 when powers were moved to the new body. Peter was Chairman of the, now former Railway Heritage Committee until 31st March 2013 when the body was succeeded by the RHDAB; Joint Conference Organiser, FEDECRAIL European Federation of Museum & Tourist Railways; Committee Member, ABTEM Association of British Transport & Engineering Museums; Board Member, STHMA Scottish Transport Heritage Marketing Association; Scottish Solicitor (not currently practicing !), Post-Graduate Diploma in Heritage Management, Ironbridge Institute - University of Birmingham; Member of a wide range of railway heritage and general heritage and cultural organisations in Scotland, elsewhere in the UK and Europe

He is also a member of the Scottish Railway Preservation Society (former Council Member and Company Secretary), the Strathspey Railway Association, the Locomotive Owners Group Scotland, the Vintage Carriages Trust, CRAG Capital Rail Action Group (Edinburgh), the Scottish Association for Public Transport, LUCS - the Linlithgow Union Canal Society and the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland.

E-Mail:                        peter.ovenstone@hra.uk.com


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Ian Leigh


Ian joined the Board in 2011 having been co-opted and was elected at the AGM in 2012. Ian is currently Finance Director of HRA. Prior to this he served as the Friends Membership Secretary from 2002 until 2007 and subsequently as Secretary of the Member Services Committee.

He was the Hon. Financial Secretary of the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway Preservation Society a post he held from 1995 until 2015. Continuing the financial interest he is also been an auditor for Fedecrail and he was the treasurer of the East Herts Miniature railway for three years.

He is also a volunteer on the Ravenglass and Eskdale railway working for the P.Way department undertaking track renewals and fishplate greasing.

Ian worked for Network Rail in Train Planning prior to taking early retirement in 2015.

E-Mail:                        ian.leigh@hra.uk.com


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Richard Barnes


Richard was co-opted on to the Board in 2014, after becoming involved in setting up the HRA insurance scheme which will eventually become a Mutual. After a considerable amount of work in developing the Policy Document, the scheme is now in operation. He is also a member of the Business Development and Legal & Parliamentary Affairs Committees.

Since becoming a Director, he has been involved in several HRA projects such as: Organiser for HRA Annual Awards Ceremony, dealing with some mediation for members,  queries on general insurance matters, and visiting members considering joining the HRA Insurance Scheme.

Outside HRA, Richards business interests were involved in the safety of theme park rides, where he was a long-standing Chairman of BSI and CEN committees.  He also ran various electrical, audio and presentation companies but was also seconded for many years to a senior political party press office role, leading Ministerial events, press relations, and conferences.

E-Mail:                         richard.barnes@hra.uk.com


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Geoffrey Claydon CB


Geoffrey has been a Director of the Heritage Railway Association since 2003, Chairman of the Legal & Parliamentary Affairs Committee since 2002, Chairman of the Heritage Tramways Committee since 2008 and a member of the Rail Cableways Committee.

Born in Birmingham, he holds a law degree and was admitted a Solicitor of the Supreme Court in 1954. From 1959 until 1995 he was a member of the Government Legal Service, serving as Principal Assistant Treasury Solicitor and Legal Adviser to the Department of Energy 1980-90 (when he was responsible for introducing a safety regime for personnel on offshore oil rigs) and at the Department of Transport 1990-95 (when he was responsible for up-dating railway and tramway legislation).

He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1990. He is a member of the Fixed Track Section of the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK and of the Tramway Standards Verification Group of HM Railway Inspectorate.

Currently Patron of the Light Rail Transit Association and a former President of the National Tramway Museum, he was contributing editor to Halsbury's Laws of England on Tramways (2000) and editor of British Tramway Accidents (2006).

E-Mail:                        geoffrey.claydon@hra.uk.com


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Hugh Harkett


Hugh spent most of his business career in management positions in the oil and chemical industries culminating in the role of Managing Director of the DuPont Company Imaging Equipment Division at Thetford, Norfolk. Academic qualifications included courses by University of Columbia Business School which reinforced his systematic thinking and gave him his zeal for strategic planning.

Hugh first took an interest in heritage railways in 1992, joining the North Yorkshire Moors Railway as a volunteer signalman. Proximity of work at Thetford allowed him to switch signalling activity to the North Norfolk Railway and before long he found himself on the Board of Directors. His DuPont business career ended with early retirement in 2001. This eventually led to an approach to become Managing Director of the NNR in 2005. This was at a difficult period, but NNR has been able to pull things around and is now a highly successful and viable attraction in Norfolk as well as catering for the heritage aspects of the Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway. The NNR "Road Map" in the past few years has been development of a one to ten year Strategic Plan which defines the business direction, helps to direct resources appropriately, and ensures financial viability.

Hugh hopes to bring his business experience to bear on HRA and help the Association to become more focussed, providing positive leadership for the heritage railway industry. When, Ihe finds time, he enjoys his five grandchildren, playing golf, singing with the London Welsh Male Voice Choir and working as a Volunteer Signalman.

E-Mail:                        hugh.harkett@hra.uk.com


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Bill Hillier


Bill is a Director of the HRA where, in addition to collecting the statistics from members, he is chairman of both the Operating & Safety and Rail Cableways committees. The terms of reference of those committees give an indication of the responsibilities of these roles. He chairs the joint ORR / HRA Boiler Working Group on boiler maintenance.

Bill was a founder Director of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, and Company Secretary for over 25 years. During that time he was responsible for all interaction with the Railway Inspectorate. He was Guard on the first public train in 1984 and now works as Station Master when the tide of paper permits.

A Chartered Engineer he is qualified in both electronics and management. He has many years' experience as a Director of a major electronics company and was responsible for Research Council funding of manufacturing research at Universities for ten years.

E-Mail:                        bill.hillier@hra.uk.com


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David Morgan MBE TD


David served as Chairman of HRA until 1st June 2014, having served on the Board of the Association and its predecessors since 1972. He is also Chairman of Great Central Railway Plc and Vice President of the West Somerset Railway. His longest railway involvement has been with the North Norfolk Railway of which he is now President, having originally joined its Board in 1968.

His initial involvement with preserved railways (as they were then known) was as legal advisor, unsurprisingly since he is a solicitor. David retired from practice at the end of February 2013.

His primary objective has been to gain widespread recognition of the railway heritage sector and its beneficial contribution to the community, both culturally and financially.

He has also been keen to establish links with the wider heritage movement, as with the Transport Trust, of which he is Deputy President, and Heritage Alliance. He is also Founder President of the European Federation of Museum and Tourist Railways (FEDECRAIL) and the World Association of Tourist Trams and Trains (WATTRAIN).

He holds the strong belief that HRA exists to serve its members, not only by political lobbying when appropriate but also with the provision of advice and guidance.

He served for 32 years in the Territorial Army, ending up with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He was decorated with the MBE by the Queen in 2003 for his services "to transport preservation in the UK and Europe".

He lives in London with his wife and has a married daughter.

E-Mail:                        david.morgan@hra.uk.com


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Jenny Nunn


Jenny's background is in marketing and tourism having worked for large European tour operators such as DFDS Scandinavian Seaways and DER Deutsches Reiseburo. This was an incredible time as early on in her career she witnessed the fall of the Iron Curtain first hand, highlighting the innumerable opportunities this emerging market with its hidden gems had to offer the British traveller for the first time.

To Devon and Seaton Tramway, where she started as Commercial Manager exactly eleven years ago and has been Managing Director for the past eight. The Tramway, in spite of experiencing a major track washout and the loss of its Chairman, Trevor Shears, last year has gone from strength to strength and achieved a record performance level for 2014. Excellent teamwork and creativity have been the keys to the Company's success. She believes that together and with a bit of hard work HRA and its members can make heritage railway attractions a credible alternative in the Days Out market, thus increasing footfall and visitor spend for all types of rail heritage attractions.

E-Mail:                        jenny.nunn@hra.uk.com


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Chris Smyth


Chris Smyth is Chairman of the Education and Training Committees and an active member of the Heritage Committee.

He became involved in railway preservation as steam was leaving the main line and was a founder member of the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group when at Newcastle University in 1965 and helped raise money to buy the J27 and Q6.

Chris is a retired chartered engineer and spent his working life in the Nuclear Power industry, working on the computer control of nuclear power stations. Over 30 years in the field he saw it transform from cutting edge technology to something closer to a working museum as the original computers were overtaken by new technology.

When working in Cheshire in 1967, he became involved in the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and is still operationally and administratively involved. Chris is a trustee of the Vintage Carriages Trust, a registered charity and accredited Museum which he chaired for over a decade.

He has a general interest in heritage transport and is actively involved in the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society, the Horse Boating Society and Friends of President. He is also a trustee of the National Railway Heritage Awards, the Severn Valley Railway Rolling Stock Trust and LCLRHVT and a committee member of the Association of British Transport and Engineering Museums.

Chris describes himself as 'a compulsive joiner' with armchair membership of 40 or more heritage bodies.

E-Mail:                        chris.smyth@hra.uk.com


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Steve Wood


Steve has been on the HRA Board for over ten years and is Chairman of the Member Services Committee and Corporate Membership Secretary looking after all aspects of membership. Steve is also one of the joint editors of the HRA Annual Report which is produced as an A4 glossy report for members and to pass onto contacts inside and out of the Railway Industry.

He began his active volunteering days in 1978 as a volunteer on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, carrying out many duties including guard, booking office and permanent way, becoming the Railway's General Manager from 1994-2000. He still volunteers on the railway diesel driving on summer Saturdays.

Steve is also active in the PAN European organisation FEDECRAIL, which looks after all the European umbrella organisations such as HRA, VDMT etc. He is Chairman of the Heritage Operations Group and the voting British representative for HRA. Steve also produces reports for the HRA Board together with various publications such as Broadlines and FEDECRAIL Update of the proceedings of the annual conferences.

In his professional life he worked for Network Rail dealing with compatibility of rolling stock, and accepting Heritage rolling stock onto the main line. Steve took early retirement in September 2012 when Network Rail functions were centralised in Milton Keynes.

E-Mail:                        steve.wood@hra.uk.com