|Gordon Dodge, Rest in Peace
Gordon Dodge, who helped fight such long odds to get Melksham station re-opened in 1985 - and won - passed away yesterday. My deepest sympathy goes to his wife Audrey and family who have lost a remarkable husband and father.
When I started the "Save the Train" campaign 2 summers ago, Gordon welcomed this upstart into the fold of campaigning for the retention of an appropriate service under the harsh new Greater Western Franchise which puts profit ahead of passengers - and I am very VERY grateful for that. The Melksham Rail Development Group, and the West Wilts Rail User Group (he was Vice Chairman of both) could so easily have taken umberage at the newcomer, but instead I was welcomed and we worked well together.
It didn't take me long to realise that Gordon was far more active in both groups that his "vice chairman" role implied. A Friend of Melksham Station, Gordon tended the flowers, even though he had to carry the water in his car from home (their being no tap at the station), anc last year planted the beds in First Group's colours, even though he shared our disquiet as to what they were doing to our service. That was Gordon for you - welcoming, generous and quietly active.
Gordon Dodge (standing behind Santa) organised the "Santa Special" train trips from Melksham to Swindon in early December each year.
Gordon talked about working at "The Avon" in Melksham, and work in the print shop there. It sounded very much like he loved his work, and when he retired he took further work as a pallbearer, working for our local undertakers. Some of the tales he had to tell ... but never at the expense of anyone, I note (as I don't think he had an ounce of that in him!) had us enthralled.
Still very much an active supporter, Gordon came along to our train meeting early last month - he wasn't feeling (or looking) well, but he was very much an ACTIVE supporter. We were shocked to hear that he was in hospital a week or two later, and we visited him in there. He knew / we knew that there was no certainty that he would pull throught, but still we talked of trains, and future, and how we hoped we would be able to arrange a special this summer to Weymouth, and that he would be able to join us on the first day of an appropriate service this coming December.
Gordon's worked for both the local undertakers, and so he's pretty much aware of what'll go on - indeed, he was talking the other week of planning his own funeral and had some very specific ideas. I only heard of his passing a few hours ago, so I can't pass on the details yet - but I will do so.
And I think it would be a good memorial to Gordon is we COULD run a seaside special this summer. And it would be a GREAT memorial if we could get that appropriate service back for the town that he loved, through the station he cherished.
Written 2007-04-16 17:47:12
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