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One of the welcome signs of a gradual return to normal has been the return of various events that were absent in 2020, which became the year when nothing happened. Last week we had the return of the Railtex/Infrarail trade show, this week we have the return of a different and more prestigious event – the National Rail Awards. OK, I may be slightly biased here as I’ve attended every NRA since 2003 which is when I first became the event photographer. That was quite a daunting task then as I’d only just turned professional and I was shooting on film, which was a lot more challenging. I worked at every awards until (I think) 2017 when I retired from the role and became a VIP guest instead – which is much less stressful and a lot more fun!

Now Dawn and I are on our way to London to attend the resurrected awards I’m really looking forward to the chance to catch up with so many old friends and colleagues whom I’ve not had chance to see (in person) for a while. We’re currently on the train from Leeds and LNER provided this vintage bit of traction to take us there…

I won’t be blogging throughout the day, but I will add a few pictures and an overview later. I’m sure it will be a great event. It sees the return of Nigel Harris’ co-host, the BBC TV News anchor Huw Edwards. We used to have guest presenters every year and the list is a stellar one that includes John Humphreys, Steph McGovern, Nick Owen and many more, but for the past several years Huw’s been such a success he’s become a feature.

Here he is at last night’s awards….

I have to say, it was a great event and so good to see that many familiar faces together again. As usual with the awards the biggest difficulty was getting to talk to everyone you knew. When there’s over 900 people there it’s a challenge! Even so, we really enjoyed ourselves as we had a fantastic table right at the front so had a grandstand view of everything. Personally, I’d always had that as the event photographer but now I didn’t have to keep bobbing up from my seat, camera in hand, every time people came up to collect their awards! Instead I could sit back with a glass of wine and applaud.

This year we had a surprise guest, who I’ll tell you more about later…