ONE of the leading founders of the beloved Didcot Railway Centre is to be honoured with a lifetime achievement award.

Richard Croucher is to receive the honour from The Railway Magazine ‘for services to railway preservation’.

Mr Croucher served as chairman of the Great Western Society, the charity that operates Didcot Railway Centre, for 18 years and still supports it.

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In its early years he led protracted negotiations with the British Rail Property Board, then Railtrack and finally Network Rail to secure a long-term lease on the railway centre site with its original 1932 engine shed and working coal stage.

More recently he has been instrumental in raising funds and co-ordinating projects such as the restoration of the King Edward II.

Current GWS chairman Richard Preston said: “This accolade is richly deserved, and we look forward to celebrating with Richard at the awards dinner next month.

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“His efforts have allowed us to achieve so much and we’re delighted that 6023, 2999 and No 93 are all scheduled to be in action this year helping us to tell the story of the Great Western Railway to visitors young and old alike.”

The award will be presented at the annual Heritage Railway Association Awards on Saturday, February 8.