Letter of the week: Legacy of doomed Hartlepool help group will not be forgotten

Flashback to 2010. Peter Gowland, of HVDA, third from the right, with Hartlepool Railway Station ambassadors, left to right, Carol Slattery, Gordon and Ada Shears, Paul Stevenson and Jamie Sculley.
Flashback to 2010. Peter Gowland, of HVDA, third from the right, with Hartlepool Railway Station ambassadors, left to right, Carol Slattery, Gordon and Ada Shears, Paul Stevenson and Jamie Sculley.

It was with sadness and regret that The Friends of Hartlepool Station learned of the unfortunate, but not unexpected, demise of Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency.

An organisation which, throughout its 30 year existence in Hartlepool, has helped countless volunteer groups to become established, flourish and develop.

These groups have benefited the community they serve through both the provision and sourcing of funds and the personal input of their representatives.

As secretary of The Friends of Hartlepool Station I would like, on behalf of the members of our group, to put on record our appreciation of the contribution that HVDA has made to our organisation over the years.

Their advice, funding, presence at our meetings and always being there as both a cushion and a source of guidance have been invaluable.

HVDA has played a massively important role over the last 30 years.

It recently published a long list of its achievements but appears to have overlooked an important one from a rail perspective.

Lifeline Hartlepool charity to close

It seems appropriate therefore to remind them and all Hartlepool residents that December sees the 10th anniversary of the advent of the Grand Central service at Hartlepool, the introduction of which has brought much appreciated and long-awaited direct services to York and London.

So where does HVDA fit into all this?

Tom Clift, the then managing director of Grand Central, wanted to establish a group of people to become Grand Central ambassadors, a scheme by which ambassadors attend the otherwise unstaffed station on Sundays in order to assist passengers who are due to catch south-bound Grand Central trains.

Peter Gowland, from HVDA (and also at the time a much valued member of our Friends group), was instrumental in organising and helping to establish that group of ambassadors for GC, many of whom were and still are also members of The Friends of Hartlepool Station.

The ambassadors scheme was such a success at Hartlepool that it has now been rolled out on an increasing number of other stations used by GC.

It is fitting then that, with the scheme’s present expansion, its connection with HVDA is unlikely to fade and Peter’s contribution, in particular, will have a lasting legacy.

Mike Anderson,


Hon Secretary,


Friends of Hartlepool Station,


Hartlepool.

Last week's letter of the week: "Defendants on community service should clean Hartlepool's streets"