National Railway Museum man to chair awards panel

The judging panel for the 2024 Heritage Railway Association Annual Awards is to be chaired by the National Railway Museum’s Anthony Coulls.

The awards is the biggest and most prestigious event of its type in the heritage rail world, recognising achievements in every element of railway preservation, restoration and operation. It is judged each year by a panel of experts drawn from within the sector and the specialist press.

For the 2024 awards, longstanding heritage railway volunteer and historian, Anthony has agreed to chair the panel. Mr Coulls is currently Senior Curator at the National Railway Museum and a locomotive fireman at the Talyllyn Railway.

Heritage Railway Association Chief Executive, Steve Oates, said: “The HRA Awards is the ultimate celebration of what is great in heritage rail. Adding Anthony’s wealth of expertise is going to strengthen the judging panel immeasurably.

“Anyone who knows Anthony will understand that his knowledge is seemingly endless; stretching from obscure narrow gauge railways to some of the world’s most famous railway icons. I know the whole panel are looking forward to working with him.”

Entries for the 2024 HRA Annual Awards are open now. Categories include the prestigious ‘Railway of the Year’ award, won last year by the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, and the Coiley Award for Steam Locomotive Engineering – last picked up by the Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway for the restoration their 2ft 6in gauge Kerr Stuart Premier. The awards also recognise outstanding personal contributions through the Team of the Year title, the Lord Faulkner Young Volunteer Award and the Rising Star category.

Anthony said: “There’s such a rich variety of projects large and small to celebrate across the heritage sector, and so many wonderful people undertaking them. I look forward to seeing the entries and beginning the challenge of working with the panel to choose the winners for 2024 – a hard task, but a very pleasurable one.”

The closing date for all 11 categories in the 2024 HRA Annual Awards is Monday, November 6. The judging panel will then meet in late 2023 before announcing the shortlist for the awards.  Winners will be announced at a glamorous awards evening in Brighton on Saturday, 10 February 2024 with guest speakers and a gala dinner.

Further details of the HRA Awards, together with easy-to-complete online entry forms, are available on the HRA website now.