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Dawn and I are back at home after attending last night’s National Rail Awards in London. It was a brilliant event made all the more interesting by the fact that, for the first time in 15 years I was a VIP guest at the awards rather than being there to take the photos, which allowed me to spend more time to talk to the many friends I’ve made in the industry throughout the years

You might think “well, what’s the industry got to celebrate with all these strikes, failed franchises and timetable fiascos?”, but as the host of the event, RAIL magazine’s Editor Nigel Harris pointed out – The awards are about celebrating people. Those people who go above and beyond the call of duty to deliver exemplary service – even under incredibly difficult circumstances.

The pair of us arrived shortly after opening. As it’s a black tie event you’ve got to get a selfie, haven’t you?

This year, as I wasn’t ‘on duty’ I’ve had the opportunity to record the event for myself.

The awards are held in the ballroom of the Grosvenor Park Hotel in Park Lane. Around 1100 people attend. This is what the floor looks like from the VIP bar.

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The place soon gets packed with people once everyone is called to dinner after the chance to chat, meet old friends or simply network with colleagues.

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Some of the 114 tables at last night’s National Rail awards

We’ve had some excellent co-hosts over the years but one who always makes a great impression is the BBC’s Steph McGovern. It’s her second time at the awards. Steph is a witty, down to earth Tees-sider who posses a self-deprecating sense of humour and a wealth of anecdotes. Her story of meeting Donald Trump is especially funny – and pithy!

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Last years awards was probably the most memorable of all as it paid tribute to the members of the British Transport Police and station staff who suffered two horrendous events, The suicide bomb at the MEN arena above Manchester Victoria station and also the terror attack at London Bridge when BTP Officer Wayne Marques was seriously injured whilst heroically tackling the knife-wielding terrorists single-handedly when his only weapon was a baton.

Wayne is finally on the road to recovery and returned to the awards this year and received another standing ovation and the heartfelt thanks of the crowd.

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I won’t detail every winner here, but you can find them on the RAIL website if you follow this link.

Now it’s time to ditch my black tie for something a little more suitable for a photojournalist as on Sunday I fly to Germany for the massive Innotrans rail show. Expect pictures and a few reports soon…

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