Francis Bourgeois confirmed as guest speaker for Heritage Rail Awards

Social media sensation, content creator and author Francis Bourgeois is set to be the guest speaker at the Heritage Railway Association Annual Awards 2024. 

The cult trainspotter who aims to inspire people to follow their passions will take to the stage in Brighton during February at the gala dinner held to reveal the winners of the top awards in heritage rail. He will address hundreds of leading restorationists, preservationists and innovators shortlisted in the 11 categories of the HRA Annual Awards 2024, sponsored by Inspire Structures. 

With a combined following of over 5 million followers across TikTok and Instagram, he’s one of the best-known digital creators in the UK, working with Channel 4 on his YouTube series ‘Trainspotting with Francis Bourgeois,’ his first book ‘The Trainspotter’s Notebook’ was published in 2022, and he works with global brands such as Gucci, Puma and LEGO, alongside creating his own content.  

Heritage Railway Association Chief Executive, Steve Oates, said: “Francis has brought the world of railways, and heritage railways, to a completely different audience. His content and infectious enthusiasm really stands out and I’m sure lots of us have been captivated by it. 

“The HRA Annual Awards is a celebration of achievement, innovation and success in all different forms across the heritage rail sector. I’m really pleased that Francis will be a part of those celebrations.”  

Francis will be following in the footsteps of other noted celebrity railway enthusiasts such as pop music legend Pete Waterman and leading journalist Christian Wolmar, who have also been guest speaker at the event.  

Francis said: “Heritage railways and railway groups across the UK have played such an important part in preserving not just the locomotives, rolling stock and railway infrastructure, but nationwide railway enthusiasm itself! The heritage railway sector has connected enthusiasts to some of the most visceral and inspiring experiences you can have on the railway – from 9Fs hauling heavy goods trains, or Deltics flying up the East Coast Mainline. 

 “I have had so much pleasure from heritage railways alongside my friends at diesel galas and running days, and it is a real privilege to be a part of the upcoming Heritage Railway Association annual awards. I am looking forward to meeting all the great people involved and I can’t wait to showcase more of the amazing heritage railways in the UK through my videos.” 

The long-running HRA Annual Awards recognise excellence or innovation in almost every aspect of heritage railway and tramway restoration, preservation and operation. Recent winners have ranged from the Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway’s 2ft 6in gauge steam locomotive Premier, to the Class 50 Alliance for their work on late-1960s 100mph diesel electric locomotives.  

Tickets for the awards are available to purchase now


Image credit - Stuart Simpson Penguin Random House